Luscious, Lovely, Sultry and Scandalous "Sweater Girl" Star
by David Wolfe
Her personal life could have been a movie by her studio, M-G-M. Overnight stardom, giddy romances, multiple marriages, notoriety, murder, career comeback...Lana Turner lived life to the limit as the personification of a beautiful blonde Hollywood star.
Judy Turner was born in 1921 in Idaho, but she and her mother moved to California when she was very young. Once upon a time, she was playing hooky from Hollywood High School, sipping a coke at Schwab’s Drugstore when she was discovered by a studio talent scout. That’s the story anyway. The truth, though it couldn’t matter less, is that she was in another less famous drugstore and sneaking a cigarette. But she did get discovered, her name was changed to Lana and she became a star from her very first moment on the screen. “They Will Never Forget” gave audiences in 1937 a brief glimpse of Lana bouncing along in a tight sweater. They never forgot and she became known as “The Sweater Girl.”
Lana Turner’s luscious, creamy blonde beauty was always generally regarded as greater than her acting ability though she eventually became such a competent performer that she garnered Academy Award nominations much later in her career. At the beginning she was a good example of the Hollywood studio system. She was groomed and glamourized, polished and perfected until she emerged as a golden goddess fit to co-star in four films with The King, Clark Gable. While still a teen-ager, she rated star treatment. In 1941’s “Ziegfeld Girl” Lana played a young showgirl tragically consumed by success. The movie’s big production number featured Lana, gloriously gowned by Adrian. She did indeed look like she“Stepped Out of a Dream.”
The original version of this reprinted paper doll book was published in 1942 when Lana’s star was on the ascendant. By that time, her transformation was complete and she looked like the consummate star, so perfectly beautiful that she could not be real. Later in life, her looks hardened but her glamour never diminished until her death in 1995 at age 74.
Her films were box office hits and Lana Turner ranked as one of M-G-M’s major stars. “Homecoming,” “Green Dolphin Street,” “Boom Town,” ”The Bad and the Beautiful” and “The Three Musketeers”. were some of her solid successes.
Lana Turner’s very public private life was not so successful. Marriage followed marriage and she racked up eight marriages and many romantic relationships by the end of her life. One of them caused a notorious scandal in 1958 when her teen-age daughter accidentally murdered Lana’s current boyfriend. Instead of ruining her career as many thought it would, the tragedy became a triumph and audiences flocked to see her comeback movies. “Imitation of Life” and “Portrait in Black”showcased Lana in lavish wardrobes by Jean-Louis.“Peyton Place” and “Madame X” allowed her to show her emoting ability. Later, she had a recurring role on a TV series, “Falcon Crest.”
Lana Turner left the screen while her beauty was still intact. She was the perfect product of the Hollywood Studio System, an image of blonde beauty and sultry sex appeal made to be worshipped by millions. And she was. The ultimate movie star...Lana Turner.