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Lana Turner was a film actress and sex symbol who was "discovered" while drinking soda at a diner counter. She made over 50 films and was married seven times.
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Born on February 8, 1921, in Wallace, Idaho, Lana Turner was "discovered" while drinking soda at a Hollywood café. She signed with MGM and became a celebrated film actress and movie sex symbol. Married seven times, Turner was romantically connected to numerous actors. In 1958, Turner's daughter stabbed gangster Johnny Stompanato, but it was judged justifiable homicide. Turner died in Century City, California, on June 29, 1995.
Actress. Born Julia Jean Mildred Frances Turner, on February 8, 1921, in Wallace, Idaho. (Though Turner claimed in her autobiography that she was born in 1921, most sources agree on the earlier date.) One of America's most celebrated sex symbols during the 1940s and 1950s, Turner made over 50 films. Her tempestuous personal life -- seven marriages, a stable of lovers, and a very public murder scandal -- only increased her reputation as a larger-than-life screen and sex goddess.
After her father, Virgil, a gambler and bootlegger, was murdered, the young Turner and her mother, Mildred, left the Idaho mining town of Wallace for San Francisco. In 1935, they moved again, this time to Los Angeles. While still a student at Hollywood High School, Turner was "discovered" by William R. Wilkerson, the publisher of the Hollywood Reporter, as she sat drinking a soda in the Top Hat Café (not Schwab's drugstore, as the famous Hollywood legend would have it). Wilkerson introduced Turner to Zeppo Marx (of the Marx Brothers), who owned his own casting agency, and Marx in turn sent her to the director Mervyn LeRoy. LeRoy cast the voluptuous 15-year-old actress (who chose the screen name "Lana" herself) in the thriller, They Won't Forget (1937), in which she appeared briefly but memorably in a form-fitting skirt and sweater. She soon signed a contract at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio.
It was not long before Turner became known as the "Sweater Girl" -- the subject of a series of tremendously popular posters cherished by GI's around the world during World War II. Appearances in such films as The Great Garrick (1937), The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938), Love Finds Andy Hardy (1939), and These Glamour Girls (1939) only increased the potency of her sex symbol image. As her fame grew, she soon began winning leading roles, and in 1941 earned critical acclaim for her performance in Ziegfield Girl. In the next several years, Turner was cast opposite some of Hollywood's most prominent leading men, including Clark Gable (1941's Honky Tonk and 1942's Somewhere I'll Find You), Spencer Tracy (1941's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), and Robert Taylor (1941’'s Johnny Eager).
After World War II ended, Turner was able to move further away from the "Sweater Girl" moniker she hated. She gave one of her most respected performances as a cold-blooded adulteress in The Postman Always Rings Twice in 1946. After appearing in various other films, including Green Dolphin Street (1947), The Three Musketeers (1948), and The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Turner took a risky move and left MGM, preferring to go out on her own.
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