Featured Star: Lana Turner
As Lola Meredith in Imitation Of Life (1959)

Despite a tumultuous personal life that frequently threatened to overwhelm her career, this petite yet robust blonde beauty enjoyed a 20+ year run as one of Hollywood's most popular and demanded sex goddesses and forged a lasting body of work. Born in an Idaho mining town, Julia "Judy" Turner was ten when she lost her gambler father to a fatal robbery, and her mother moved the family to California in search of opportunity. While the oft-recounted tale of her discovery at the counter of Schwab's was an embellishment, the publisher of the did take notice of the pretty fifteen-year-old at a restaurant, and an introduction was made to Zeppo Marx's agency.

She made her first screen appearance with a bit in the original "A Star Is Born," and after her introduction to producer-director Mervyn LeRoy, she made an immediate impression when he cast her as the sweater-clad murder victim in "They Won't Forget." More small parts in fare like "The Great Garrick" and "The Adventures Of Marco Polo" came in succession, and when LeRoy bolted Warner for MGM in 1938, Lana followed. The next few years were spent in a typical starlet's apprenticeship at the studio, making numerous programmers like "Love Finds Andy Hardy," Calling Dr. Kildare," "These Glamour Girls" and "Dancing Co-Ed," as well as a brief marriage to bandleader Artie Shaw.

Few screen actresses could claim a breakout year as Lana had in 1941, as MGM upped the stature of her projects and positioned her against their foremost leading men in "Ziegfeld Girl" (James Stewart), "Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde" (Spencer Tracy), "Honky Tonk" (Clark Gable) and "Johnny Eager" (Robert Taylor). She became a favorite pin-up girl of the WWII years, busying herself with MGM fare like "Somewhere I'll Find You," "Slightly Dangerous," "Keep Your Powder Dry" and "Week-End At The Waldorf," as well as another tumultuous union with restaurateur Stephen Crane. She continued to add to her professional resume through the decade with "The Postman Always Rings Twice," "Cass Timberlane," "Homecoming" and "The Three Musketeers," and a marriage to millionaire Henry J, Topping. Her contract with MGM lasted through the mid-'50s, with highlights including "The Bad And The Beautiful," "Mr. Imperium," "Betrayed" and "The Prodigal," she also moved on to another spouse in actor Lex Barker.

Finally freelance, she remained in demand, as evidenced by "The Sea Chase," "The Rains Of Ranchipur," and "Peyton Place," which resulted in the sole Best Actress Oscar nomination of her career. The fan sheets were as fueled as ever by her love life, but her career nearly foundered with the 1958 justifiable-homicide stabbing of her abusive lover Johnny Stompanato by her teenage daughter Cheryl Crane. Turner would thereafter rebound, primarily in glossy sudsers like "Imitation Of Life," "Portrait In Black," and "By Love Possessed," but her vogue was on the wane by the mid-60s. She'd have another three marriages by the time the decade was through. Her acting output afterwards was intermittent, with her last big-screen appearance coming in 1980's "Witches' Brew"; she retired from performing for good after early-'80s TV stints on "Falcon Crest" and "The Love Boat." Her final years until her passage from throat cancer in 1992 were spent out of the public eye.

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