Lana Turner had an acting ability that belied the “Sweater Girl” image MGM thrust upon her, and even many of her directors admitted that they knew she was capable of greatness. Unfortunately, her private life sometimes overshadowed her professional accomplishments.
Lana Turner was born Julia Jean Mildred Francis Turner in Wallace, Idaho. There is some discrepancy as to whether her birth date is February 8, 1920 or 1921. Lana herself said in her autobiography that she was one year younger (1921) than the records showed, but then this was a time where women, especially actresses, tended to “fib” a bit about their age. Most sources agree that 1920 is the correct year of birth. Her parents were Mildred Frances (Cowan) and John Virgil Turner, a miner, both still in their teens when she was born. In 1929, her father was murdered and it was shortly thereafter her mother moved her and the family to California where jobs were “plentiful”. Once she matured into a beautiful young woman, she went after something that would last forever: stardom. She wasn’t found at a drug store counter, like some would have you believe, but that legend persists. She pounded the pavement as other would-be actors and actresses have done, are doing and will continue to do in search of movie roles.
By the 1960s, however, fewer roles were coming her way with the rise of new and younger stars. She still managed to turn in memorable performances in such films as Portrait in Black (1960) and Bachelor in Paradise (1961). By the next decade the roles were coming in at a trickle.