Friday, April 2, 2010

Lana: The Lady, the Legend, the Truth (1982), Lana Turner.

This autobiography is as gripping and concisely written as a drugstore paperback!  Did she have any help?  Who knows.  Before reading this, the only role I could connect Lana Turner to was Cora, the bored young wife of an older man in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), so I had her firmly planted in the studio era, which was wrong, wrong, wrong.  She was a mink-wearing, Las Vegas-loving rat pack babe, friends (?) with Ava Gardner (or at least with Frank).  Technicolor, not so much black and white.  She tells a good story about being an MGM star during the disintegration of the system into sword and sandal pics, and how the studio's once bustling "main street" became a ghost town and Clark Gable simply slipped out the gates with no fanfare, never to return.

Of course the meat of the book is her description of her relationship with gutter rat and minor sleazebag Johnny Stampanato, who was stabbed with a kitchen knife by her teenaged daughter in 1958.  She married seven different men including two who were simply fans that mailed her gifts (Johnny's in this category) and a number of guys with no real income.  One was a nightclub hypnotist, another was famous for playing beefcake roles in foreign Tarzan/Hercules productions, another was always RUSHING her while she was getting ready to go out for the evening, which was the LAST STRAW! All of this leaves you thinking Lana was a hyper-narcissist without a lot of common sense and there were several moments where I didn't quite buy the ending to some of her yarns, which invariably cast her in an angelic light.  But this is a fun, breezy read, and she's fairly honest about her flaws even if she refuses to admit to specific errors of judgment.

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