Monday, February 08, 2021

A Centennial Tribute to Lana Turner

Today is the centennial of the birth of Lana Turner.

Lana Turner was born in Idaho 100 years ago today, on February 8, 1921.

Turner made her film debut at Warner Bros. in THEY WON'T FORGET (1937) and the following year signed at MGM, where she would be a top star for the next 18 years.

I'm often struck by how much pure enjoyment there is in Turner's filmography. Thanks to her MGM training she was an accomplished dancer who appeared in several musicals early in her career.

Here she is dancing with Lee Bowman in DANCING CO-ED (1939):

And with George Murphy and Joan Blondell in TWO GIRLS ON BROADWAY (1940):

The glamorous Turner defined the word movie star. She could do it all, equally at home in light romances, World War II dramas, comedies, costume films, and melodramas.

A Turner photo gallery from just a handful of her films, starting with Clark Gable in HONKY TONK (1941):

Lana was at her loveliest in MARRIAGE IS A PRIVATE AFFAIR (1944) with John Hodiak:

KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY (1945) with Susan Peters:



With Barry Sullivan and Dick Powell in THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952):

THE MERRY WIDOW (1952) with Fernando Lamas:


Off the screen Turner's life could be tumultuous, with eight failed marriages to seven men -- one of them she married twice -- and of course the infamous 1958 incident when her daughter fatally stabbed her boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato. But Lana also spent decades giving her fans enormous movie joy, for which I'm truly grateful.

Lana Turner passed away at the age of 74 on June 29, 1995.

For more on Lana Turner, I particularly recommend the superb 2008 coffee table book LANA: THE MEMORIES, THE MYTHS, THE MOVIES by her daughter Cheryl Crane and Cindy De La Hoz. It's absolutely gorgeous and presents an evenhanded account of Turner's life story.

I also highly recommend the eminent film historian Jeanine Basinger's 1976 book LANA TURNER, an entry in the Pyramid Illustrated History of the Movies series.

Turner fans will also enjoy Aurora's tribute at Once Upon a Screen, which includes links to some of Turner's radio performances.

Lana Turner films reviewed at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: FOUR'S A CROWD (1938) (uncredited bit), DRAMATIC SCHOOL (1938), RICH MAN, POOR GIRL (1938), DANCING CO-ED (1939) (also here), THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS (1939), CALLING DR. KILDARE (1939), TWO GIRLS ON BROADWAY (1940), SOMEWHERE I'LL FIND YOU (1942), SLIGHTLY DANGEROUS (1943), MARRIAGE IS A PRIVATE AFFAIR (1944), KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY (1945) (also here), THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1946), CASS TIMBERLANE (1947), GREEN DOLPHIN STREET (1947), HOMECOMING (1948), A LIFE OF HER OWN (1950), THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952) (also here), THE MERRY WIDOW (1952), LATIN LOVERS (1953) (also here), THE SEA CHASE (1955), DIANE (1956), PORTRAIT IN BLACK (1960), BACHELOR IN PARADISE (1961) (also here), MADAME X (1966).

Related post: TCM Star of the Month: Lana Turner (December 2017).


Blogger CLM said...

I am not sure I have actually seen any of her movies but you've made me newly curious! I will keep my eyes open.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I hope you'll enjoy seeing some of her movies! Given your love for literature, you might particularly enjoy something like CASS TIMBERLANE, which was based on a novel by Sinclair Lewis. I also especially recommend the sensitive WWII drama HOMECOMING, which I think is rather underrated.

Best wishes,

7:11 PM  
Blogger dfordoom said...

Even in lesser movies she was always worth watching. I've grown to like her more and more.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like LANA TURNER in THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL and PEYTON PLACE. She was a better actress than she was given credit for. Lana was certainly one of the most glamorous stars of classic HOLLYWOOD. CLASSIC TV FAN

8:46 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

DforDoom, I agree. The more of her films I've seen, the more I appreciate her.

Classic TV Fan, I haven't seen PEYTON PLACE in many years, that is on my list to catch up with! She's terrific in THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.

Thank you both for sharing your appreciation for Lana Turner on the centennial of her birth!

Best wishes,

11:17 PM  

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