Not all of the exclusive photos we bring you are from our Donald Gordon Collection. The above snapshot of Lana Turner was shared with us by our friend, and Lana aficionado, Lou Valentino.
It’s of Lana later in her then still thriving career. Must say, she looks great.
This shot was captured about two decades or so after the time of Turner’s most melodramatic personal moment — her romance with gangster Johnny Stompanato.
Born in 1925 in Woodstock, Illinois, Stompanato went to a military high school before joining the Marines in 1943, and seeing combat in the Pacific. After a failed marriage, he arrived at age 22 in Hollywood in 1948, and quickly connected with Mickey Cohen, according to author Tere Tereba’s biography, Mickey Cohen: The Life and Crimes of L.A.’s Notorious Mobster.
Johnny’s FBI file described him as a procurer of girls for Cohen’s out-of-town contacts. The LAPD’s blunt characterization: a notorious pimp.
Cohen described him as lacking a ‘vicious nature,’ a lover, not a fighter. His bedroom prowess quickly became legendary, writes Tereba. Oscar, his nickname, referred to the Academy Award-winning size of his phallus.
Stompanato, using the pseudonym of John Steele and presenting himself as a record producer, began courting Turner in the mid-Fifties when her career was in something of a funk.
Flowers, jewelry, flattery were part of his arsenal and soon Lana was hooked, calling him as many as five times hourly. Stompanato also paid close attention to Turner’s adolescent daughter, Cheryl.
But there were threats and reports of physical abuse.
The end of the affair came on a rainy Good Friday night, April 4, 1958, with the information that Stompanato’s dead body could be found on the floor of the pink bedroom of Lana’s Bedford Drive residence.
An eight-inch kitchen knife had been shoved into his solar plexis, piercing his aorta and kidney. Cheryl Crane was found to have committed justifiable homocide in trying to defend her mother, writes Tereba.
The saga of the star and Stompanato is one of Hollywood’s most enduring scandals. Many articles and books have been written over the years about the end of the oh-so gentlemanly ‘Oscar.’
Lana survived from all this in reasonable shape — looking good all the while.