Friday, June 13, 2014

Lana Turner Swatch Card

Where do you begin with Lana Turner? Not only was her life pretty much an open book, her daughter Cheryl Crane even wrote an autobiography in which Turner plays a huge part without having been present for much of it - a feat she couldn't duplicate even in her films.

Discovered at 16 years old while buying a Coke after ditching school, she started off playing the part of the innocent, pure and often naive object of romantic affection in films such as They Won't Forget (1957) and Love Finds Andy Hardy (1958).

Tremendously beautiful (think Charlize Theron), she became a hugely popular pin-up model during World War II, which heightened her popularity and got her to star in four consecutive movies with the era's highest-regarded leading man, Clark Gable.

It was in 1946, with The Postman Always Rings Twice, that she switched the tables around and started playing the femme fatale - she who rather than answer to a leading man becomes the very reason for all of his actions. And, thus, meatier and better parts, and a wider recognition of her actual acting talent.

1947 was a huge year for her, as she starred in Cass Timberlane, Green Dolphin Street, and Homecoming (a Turner-Gable reunion) and was not only MGM Studios' biggest star, but also one of the highest-paid women in the United States.

But what goes up must come down, and between the tabloids having a field day of her eight marriages (and same number of divorces), her dating life in-between marriages, a two-year hiatus from filming and a few unwise film choices upon her return, the 1950s were not kind to Turner. It culminated when her daughter (who had previously repeatedly been sexually abused by one of Turner's ex-husbands, Tarzan actor Lex Barker) killed Turner's violent mobster boyfriend Johnny Stompanato in self-defense.

Hollywood loves a happy ending and redemption story, though, so that year ended with an Academy Award nomination for her leading role in Peyton Place. She slowed her pace from that point on, though, and from 1962 to 1980 only appeared in 7 films, as well as bit parts in three TV shows.

A long-time smoker, she died on June 29th, 1995, at the age of 74, from complications linked to throat cancer; she had previously won a battle against the illness in 1992, but it came back with a vengeance.

I have this card of ''The Sweater Girl'' (a term coined after her very first film and that she hated throughout her career, kind of like how Madonna despises being called ''The Material Girl'') to remember her by:

As is customary with recent Panini products, this swatch card is the same as the regular #14 card of the 2011 Americana set's Matinee Legends sub-set, but with a hole cut in the design to accommodate the piece of clothing, which Panini guarantees has been worn by Lana Turner at the bottom of the back of the card. The swatch cards are limited to 499, and just like for this Ginger Rodgers card, I have #130.

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