Lana Turner and Johnny Stompanato met in the spring of 1957. Lana had just ended her marriage to Lex Barker and was immediately charmed by Stompanato. The two started an affair, but when Lana discovered her new boyfriend had gangster friends she tried to end it. Stompanato, however, was reluctant to let Lana go and in the year that followed, he was often physically abusive. The whole situation led to tragedy at Lana's home on the evening of 4 April 1958. After witnessing her mother and Stompanato fight and fearing for her mother's life, Lana's daughter (fourteen-year old Cheryl) stabbed Stompanato to death with a kitchen knife. A media murder trial followed, finally resulting in Cheryl's acquittal.
|Left: Johnny Stompanato and Lana Turner. Right: Lana and daughter Cheryl at the murder trial.|
Spencer Tracy and Lana Turner made two movies together, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1941) and "Cass Timberlane" (1947). I'm not sure if they were friends, but Spencer Tracy apparently cared enough to send Lana the following telegram. It was sent on 5 April 1958, the day after Lana's daughter killed Johnny Stompanato:
1958 APR 5 AM 11 54
MISS LANA TURNER, DLR=
730 NORTH BEDFORD DR BEVERLY HILLS CALIF=
DEAR LANA PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF THERE IS ANYTHING AT ALL THAT I CAN DO TO HELP