Lana Turner (born Julia Jean Turner; February 8, 1921 – June 29, 1995) was an American actress who appeared in over fifty films.
The daughter of a miner, she was born in Wallace, Idaho. Turner was infamously discovered at age sixteen drinking a soda at a malt shop while skipping a class at Hollywood High School. She would go on to have an illustrious career that spanned nearly five decades, earning critical acclaim as well as fueling major media attention with her many marriages and sensational personal life.
On her career
- I had cut a typing class because I hated to type, and I still don't know how to type, but [now] I can afford to have people type for me.
- I finally got tired of making movies where all I did was walk across the screen and look pretty. I got a big chance to do some real acting in The Postman Always Rings Twice, and I'm not going to slip back if I can help it. I tried to persuade the studio to give me something different. But every time I went into my argument about how bad a picture was, they'd say, 'well, it's making a fortune.' That licked me.
- On her experience in the film industry; quoted in MacPherson, Virginia; "Imagine This, Lads; Lana Turner Asks That You Concentrate On Her Acting," Toledo Blade (October 15, 1946).
- My life has been a series of emergencies.
- Quoted in Wayne, Jane E.: The Golden Girls of MGM: Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly and Others (2003), p. 176.
On her marriages
- My goal was to have one husband and seven children, but it turned out to be the other way around.
- Quoted in Malone, Audrey: Hollywood's Second Sex: The Treatment of Women in the Film Industry, 1900-1999 (2015), p. 61.
- I wish I could prove that he hypnotized me... That would give me a reason for doing such a dumb thing.
- The third day, I knew it was over. But I tried to make it last for three months.
- The truth is, sex doesn't mean that much to me now. It never did, really. It was romance I wanted, kisses and candlelight, that sort of thing. I never did dig sex very much.
- Quoted in Life, vol. 7 (1984), p. xxiv.
The following quotes are extracted from Turner's autobiography, Lana: The Lady, the Legend, the Truth (1982):
- When I awoke in the morning, my mother and Julia Hislop were whispering in a corner. They didn't have to tell me why. I already knew that my father was dead. And when the feeling of peace wore off, the surprise at having known intensified my sense of loss and sorrow. Although I was only nine, I could imagine what death meant. I knew he was gone forever.
- On the death of her father, p. 18.
- The thing about happiness is that it doesnt help you to grow; only unhappiness does that. So I'm grateful that my bed of roses was made up equally of blossoms and thorns. I've had a privileged, creative, exciting life, and I think that the parts that were less joyous were preparing me, testing me, strengthening me.
- On strength, p. 307.
- Trash is something you get rid of—or disease. I'm not something you get rid of.
- On her self worth, p. 46.
- My career was a hollow success, a tissue of fantasies on film. Cheryl loved my mother, and they were both comfortably endowed in my will. I had never before felt or believed I could be in such a dark hole mentally, physically, and worst of all spiritually. All the good in my life—my mother, my child, my work, my friends—was blotted out by the dead feeling that nothing really mattered. I hadnt heard that suicide was a cry for help. To me it meant putting a big stop to the pain and anguish. There was none of that Ill show them. Boy, they'll miss me when Im gone nonsense. I wasnt trying to hurt anyone. I was aware that everyone would go on and survive, but I knew I definitely could not. I wanted out.
- On her depression and suicide attempt, p. 158.
- Always before in moments of crisis I called on that power we call God to help me through. This time, having lost faith in others and my faith in myself, I had lost my hope in God too. Now that hope returned. I really believed that He hadn't wanted me to die.
- On the aftermath of her suicide attempt, p. 160.
- Humor has been the balm of my life, but it's been reserved for those close to me, not part of the public Lana.
- On the role of humor in her personal life, p. 10.
- All those years that my image on the screen as "sex goddess"—well that makes me laugh. Sex was never important to me. I'm sorry if that disappoints you, but it's true. Romance, yes. Romance was very important. But I never liked being rushed into bed, and I never allowed it. I'd put it off as long as I could and I gave in only when I was in love, or thought I was. It was always the courtship, the cuddling, and the closeness that I cared about, never the act of sex itself—with some exceptions of course. I'm not masquerading as a prude, but I've always been portrayed as a sexy woman, and that's wrong. Sensuous, yes. When I'm involved with someone I care for deeply, I can feel sensual. But that's a private matter.
- On her sexuality, p. 309
- I find men terribly exciting, and any girl who says she doesn't is an anemic old maid, a streetwalker, or a saint.
- Quoted in Lewis, John: Hard-Boiled Hollywood: Crime and Punishment in Postwar Los Angeles (2017), p. 91.
- I don't jog. I don't think it is good for women. I don't think our bosoms, our innards [or] our ovaries were meant to be jumping up and down. And I can say for the gentlemen, I don't think it's so damn good for your innards too!
- I don't think I realized how difficult it was. Forgetting the tragedy [the killing of Johnny Stompanato] for a moment, just [her] growing up. I didn't exactly think that I was stupid at the time, and of course my friends had children, and they seemed perfectly normal; my child was normal. But again, fate—all of this is preordained. Like, when I've been asked, "Miss Turner, would you change anything if you could?", well sure I would like to change a lot of things! You know, falsities and mistakes that I've made, but you didn't know it at the time. It's only in retrospect that you realize.
- Reflecting on her career and her daughter's upbringing, quoted on The Phil Donahue Show (1982).
Quotes about Turner
- I always felt I had the full support of my parents... I was never made to feel that it was anything strange. When I first told my mother, her reaction was not one of shock, it was, "Oh, darling, you'll outgrow that." And then I didn't outgrow it. And I think that my parents were so happy just to see me happy that they didn't care where the happiness originated.
- Her career is marked by an unusually, even spectacularly, high degree of interpenetration between her publicly available private life and her films. The star phenomenon depends upon collapsing the distinction between the star-as-person and the star-as-performer. This does not usually mean that the incidents of a film's scenario are taken to be actual incidents in the star's life but rather that they 'reveal' or express the personality of the type-of-person of the star. In the case of Turner, however, not only do her vehicles furnish characters and situations in accord with her off-screen image, but frequently incidents in them echo incidents in her life so that by the end of her career films like Peyton Place, Imitation of Life, Madame X and Love Has Many Faces seem in parts like mere illustrations of her life.
- Lana Turner used to come in every Tuesday and Thursday. That girl can really dance, and she did at Billy's. She always asked me for "Strange Fruit" and "Gloomy Sunday." She used to like to dance with young Mel Tormé, who used to win all of Billy's lindy contests.
- Billie Holiday, Strange Fruit (1956), p. 100.
- Her hair was dark, messy, uncombed. Her hands were trembling so she could barely read the script. But she had that sexy clean quality I wanted. There was something smoldering underneath that innocent face.
- Mervyn LeRoy on Turner during her first audition and screen test in December 1936, quoted in Wayne, Jane E.: The Golden Girls of MGM: Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly and Others (2003), p. 165.
Encyclopedic article on Lana Turner at Wikipedia