The Turners called their daughter Judy. She showed an interest in performing when she was three, doing some dance routines at various events.
When Judy was six, the Turners moved to San Francisco, separating shortly after. It was there in 1930 that tragedy struck. John Turner won a little money in a craps game. He stuffed his winnings in his sock and headed home. He never got there. Authorities found him bludgeoned to death, his left shoe and sock missing. The murder was never solved.
Judy Turner is not remembered for the dreadful story of her father’s death. She is remembered as THAT girl. Her story is so well-worn as Hollywood legend that it seems mythical. She was spotted at the Top Hat Malt Shop on Sunset Boulevard sipping a Coke while skipping a typing class at Hollywood High. The publisher of Hollywood Reporter did the spotting. He asked her if she was interested in being in the movies. Her famous answer was, “I’ll have to ask my mother first.”
Mom said yes, and the reporter sent her to see Zeppo Marx, the youngest of the Marx brothers, who was a talent agent, as well as an actor.
Somewhere along the line, Judy became Lana Turner. She had a four-decade career in film, appearing in 56 movies, including Peyton Place in 1958, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
There was a stormy chapter in her life that received much press at the time. She was dating reputed mobster Johnny Stompanato. The relationship was tempestuous and filled with violent arguments. Stompanato confronted her with a gun on the set Another Time, Another Place, which was filming in London. Co-star Sean Connery twisted the gun away from him and he ran off.
But that didn’t end the off-again on-again relationship. On March 26, 1958, Turner went to the Oscar ceremony where she was contending for Best Actress. Stompanato was angry that he didn’t get to go with her. He confronted Turner in her home, threatening to kill her mother and daughter. Fearing that her mother was in danger, daughter Cheryl entered the bedroom and stabbed Stompanato with a kitchen knife, killing him. National and local media covered the trial heavily. The jury found that it was justifiable homicide.
Lana Turner, born in Idaho, died of cancer in 1974 in Los Angeles.