Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Johnny Stompanato's body at the crime scene
Lana and Johnny
Police Officer with knife from the scene
Lana Turner, Johnny Stompanato, and Cheryl Crane
More Hollywood scandal! One of the houses we encountered on our tour of Hollywood was Lana' Turner's former home. Lana was in love with Johnny Stompanato, a former marine, turned bodyguard for gangster Mickey Cohen.
Stompanato was extremely possessive of Turner. He reportedly slapped her around a little and although she tried to leave him on several occasions, he always convinced her to come back.
Cheryl Crane, Lana's daughter, had seen her mother with bruises several times. She knew Stompanato was abusing her.
On a Friday evening in 1958, Lana and Johnny were fighting. They were in Lana's bedroom, and Cheryl was in her bedroom next door. Cheryl recalled years later for Larry King, "[There were] awful fights, screaming and yelling and smashing glasses and just, you know, things I wasn't used to hearing," Cheryl told Larry King. "And she finally sat me down and told me the whole story about having had him thrown out of England when she was filming there because he beat her so badly. How he had threatened her life, my grandmother's life. She couldn't get him out of the house. She couldn't get rid of him. And my reaction was, 'Well, mother, call the police.'
According to Cheryl, she called to her mother and Johnny from outside the room to stop the fight. "Cheryl, get away from that door!" Lana yelled. "I'm not going to tell you again!"
But Cheryl didn't go away. Instead she begged her mother to stop arguing and open the door. "And she wouldn't open the door," Cheryl said. "She said, 'Go back to your room. John is leaving.'
"And, of course, he didn't leave. And then I started hearing the threats that he was making that he was going to cut her face, that he was going to kill my grandmother. 'And I'll get your daughter, too.'"
As Lana and Johnny argued behind closed doors, Cheryl went down to the kitchen and grabbed a carving knife from a drawer. Johnny and Lana had purchased the knife earlier in the day. She returned upstairs and found herself outside her mother's closed door.
The argument then tapered down and Stompanato was going to leave the house. He went to the closet and took a set of clothes and some heavy, wooden hangers.
Armed with the knife, Cheryl pleaded with her mother to open the door, which an exasperated Lana did. She stood between Cheryl and Johnny. He was facing the door and looking at Lana with a raised arm holding the clothes over his shoulder in such a way that all Cheryl could see was the arm and some sort of weapon.
He moved to go past Lana toward the door, his arm upraised holding ... something ... and Cheryl thrust out her arm. From Lana's vantage point it looked like Cheryl had punched Johnny in the stomach and he sucked in his breath and jerked like someone who has been hit.
"Oh, my God, Cheryl, what have you done," he gasped. Then he did a small pirouette and fell to the floor. Eyes closed and wheezing awfully, Johnny lay dying on the carpet of Lana Turner's new home. Cheryl backed away, the knife falling from her hand and Lana realized the horror of the event. Cheryl had not punched John; she had stabbed him with the carving knife. Lana went to her daughter, who was sobbing, and helped her back to her room. She returned to tend to John Stompanato.
Johnny was unconscious by the time he hit the floor. His breathing was labored. As if in a trance, Lana picked up the knife and dropped it into the sink in the pink marble bar. Then she called her mother.
Within minutes a doctor and Lana's mother were on the scene. Turner was giving Johnny mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when they arrived. The doctor, a family friend, gave Stompanato a shot of adrenaline directly into his heart, but it was fruitless. Johnny Stompanato, military hero, wannabe actor, small-time hood, gigolo and abuser was dead.
There are many who think that Lana actually murdered Stompanato and asked Cheryl to take the fall for it, knowing she would not be convicted of the crime. We will never know the truth.
Here are some pictures of all parties involved and the actual house as it stands today.
Have a great day friends!