Lana Turner (; born Julia Jean Turner; February 8, 1921 – June 29, 1995) was an American actress who over the course of her nearly 50-year career achieved fame as both a pin-up model and a dramatic actress as well as for her highly publicized personal life.
Turner was discovered in 1936 at the Top Hat Malt Shop in Hollywood, California. At the age of 16, she was signed to a personal contract by Warner Bros. director Mervyn LeRoy, who took her with him when he moved to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1938. Turner attracted attention in her first film, LeRoy's They Won't Forget (1937), and she later starred in featured roles, often as an ingénue. Her auburn hair was bleached blonde for a 1939 film at MGM, and she remained blonde for the rest of her life, except for a few film roles.
During the early 1940s, Turner established herself as a leading actress in such films as Johnny Eager (1941), Honky Tonk (1941), Ziegfeld Girl (1941), and Somewhere I'll Find You (1942). She appeared in the 1941 horror film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and her reputation as a glamorous femme fatale was enhanced by her performance in the film noir The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). Her popularity continued through the 1950s in such films as The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) and Peyton Place (1957), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Media controversy surrounded Turner in 1958 when her daughter Cheryl Crane stabbed Turner's lover Johnny Stompanato to death in their Beverly Hills home during a domestic struggle. Turner's next film, Imitation of Life (1959), proved to be one of the greatest financial successes of her career, but onward from the early 1960s, her roles were fewer. Turner spent most of the 1970s and early 1980s in semi-retirement. In 1982, she accepted a much publicized and lucrative recurring guest role in the television series Falcon Crest, affording the series the highest rating it ever achieved. Turner made her final film appearance in 1985, and died from throat cancer in 1995, aged 74.
A lifelong heavy smoker, Turner was diagnosed with throat cancer in May 1992. At the urging of her daughter, Turner underwent radiation therapy to treat the cancer, and in February 1993, announced that she was in remission. Despite treatment, the cancer returned in July 1994. In September 1994, she made her final public appearance at the San Sebastián International Film Festival in Spain to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award, and was bound to a wheelchair for much of the event. Turner died nine months later at the age of 74 on June 29, 1995, of complications from the cancer at her home in Century City, Los Angeles, California. Her remains were cremated and scattered in Oahu, Hawaii.
Turner was survived by Cheryl Crane, her only child, and Crane's life partner Joyce LeRoy, whom she said she accepted "as a second daughter." They inherited some of Turner's personal effects and $50,000 in Turner's will (her estate was estimated in court documents to be worth $1.7 million ) with the majority of her estate being left to Carmen Lopez Cruz, her maid and companion for 45 years and her caregiver during her final illness. Crane challenged the will and Lopez claimed that the majority of the estate was consumed by probate costs, legal fees, and medical expenses.
For her contribution to the motion-picture industry, Turner has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6241 Hollywood Boulevard. On May 24, 1950, Turner left hand and footprints in front of the Grauman's Chinese Theatre.