Hearts & Diamonds Take All
Darwin Porter & Danforth Prince
After Betty Grable, but before there was Marilyn, America's penchant for popcorn blondes focused on Lana, the "ultimate movie star." She had it all: Looks to die for, money to burn, the romantic adulation of the world, and lovers who included the world's most desirable men.
In her 1937 film, They Won't Forget, a sixteen-year-old Lana, without wearing a brassière, walked down the street with her boobs bouncing. Censors protested, but when it was shown, America cheered and nicknamed her “The Sweater Girl.”
From there, Lana competed with Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth as the pre-eminent pinup girl (“so many men, so little time”) of World War II. Horny GIs referred to her as “the Girl We'd Like to Find in Every Port.”
From the start, her private life was marked with scandal: She aborted Mickey Rooney's baby; seduced a young John F. Kennedy; and fell for Frank Sinatra, who later caught her in bed with another love goddess, Ava Gardner.
In the early 1940s, after a nationwide campaign promoting the sale of War Bonds, Carole Lombard frantically boarded a small plane headed back to Hollywood, suffering a fiery death when it crashed within 13 minutes of takeoff. The risk she took during that thunderstorm was motivated, it was said, by her obsession with rescuing her husband, Clark Gable, from the amorous clutches of Lana Turner.
Tyrone Power—tall, dark, photogenic, and famous—eventually evolved into the greatest love of her life until the Aviator, Howard Hughes, arguably the most psychotic billionaire in the history of Hollywood, flew in to seduce both of them.
Lana (aka “The Ziegfeld Girl”) didn't hear The Postman Always Rings Twice because she was in bed with John Garfield. Later, in search of love, she spent a Weekend at the Waldorf before moving to Green Dolphin Street and later to the notorious Peyton Place, she found it during an experiment with an Imitation of Life.
Gable took her to a Honky Tonk and vowed, “Somewhere I'll Find You,” before their Homecoming reunion. With Ray Milland, she found A Life of Her Own before dancing to The Merry Widow waltz with sexy Fernando Lamas.
Many notoriously hot men—many of them her filmmaking co-stars—lay in her future: Richard Burton, Sean Connery, and Errol “in like Flynn.” Samson (Victor Mature) was said to be “Lana's Biggest Thrill.” Lana rescued Peter Lawford from Elizabeth Taylor; Ricky Ricardo from Lucy; and, when not singing amore with Dean Martin, Kirk Douglas learned that she was Bad and Beautiful both on and off the screen.
"The bombshell" once said, “I wanted one husband and seven babies, but I got the reverse—seven husbands and an only child!” She married Tarzan (Lex Barker) after his designation as “The Sexiest Man in the World,” but the union ended when she caught him seducing her teenaged daughter.
Opinions about Lana were as varied as her changing looks. “She was amoral,” said MGM's CEO, Louis B. Mayer. Robert Taylor commented: “She was the type of woman a guy would risk five years in jail for rape.” Gloria Swanson sniffed, “She wasn't even an actress…only a trollop.” And Ronald Reagan--a man who later became U.S. president--asked, “In what cathouse did she learn those tricks?”
And then there was that embarrassing murder: Did Lana fatally stab her gangster lover, Johnny Stompanato, known for his links to the Mob? Or was the heinous act committed by her daughter, a traumatized teenager who, after time in reform school, officially outed herself as a lesbian?
How did these whirlwinds of scandal affect the gal who had it all? According to Lana, “I'd like to think that in some small way, I've helped to preserve the glamour and beauty and mystery of the movie industry.”
Never before has there been, until now, a definitive, uncensored, and comprehensive biography of "the Ultimate Movie Star," Lana Turner. Until now.
Hailed for their ability to skewer the inflated, long-standing myths and icons of American politics and show-biz, Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince are the world's most prolific and visible biographers of Hollywood celebrities. Residents of New York City, and winners of book awards from many literary competitions across the country, they're co-authors and co-producers, in partnership with Blood Moon Productions and the National Book Network, of streams of written entertainment about How America Interprets Its Celebrities.
Due Date: April 2017
Paperback 978-1-936003-53-2, 1-936003-53-8 $32.95
Trim size 6x9 Ppg 624