New Book Claims Lana Turner Killed Mobster Boyfriend In Self-Defense

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As many people may remember, in the 1950s, the scandal and bizarre tale that erupted around the death of Hollywood superstar Lana Turner‘s boyfriend Johnny Stompanato, who was killed by Lana’s daughter Cheryl Crane in self-defense. As the story goes, on April 14, 1958, during a domestic dispute, 14-year-old Cheryl took a knife and stabbed Stompanato to death in order to save her mother. The case went to trial and it was ruled a “justifiable homicide.” The story remained fascinating to the public for years, and both Turner and Crane wrote about it in their memoirs.

Underworld character Johnny Stompanato is pictured here with screen star Lana Turner at a Hollywood nightclub recently. Friday night Stompanato was found stabbed to death in the star's palatial Beverly Hills home and her daughter, Cheryl Crane, 14, is being held by juvenile authorities in connection with the stabbing.


Now, the gruesome death is being written about again nearly 70 years later, with a slightly different take. In the new book A Murder in Hollywood: The Untold Story of Tinseltown’s Most Shocking Crime by Casey Sherman, released on February 13, the author claims that it was in fact Turner who wielded the knife that killed her mobster boyfriend and that her daughter took the blame because she was a minor that might be judged less harshly in the court. The book claims that not only was Stompanato abusive to Turner, he was also attempting to extort her by planning to film a sexual encounter in order to later blackmail her in exchange. But then the mobster fell in love, and changed his mind. Sounds exactly like something you might see onscreen! There are talks of the book being optioned, so it may just happen.


(Original Caption) 4/11/58-Los Angeles, California: Showing the strain, actress Lana Turner appears on the verge of collapse as she testifies at the inquest into the death of Johnny Stompanato, her gangland boyfriend, here, April 11th. Deliberating less than half an hour, the coroner's jury ruled that Stompanato's death, at the hands of Cheryl Crane, Lana's 14-year-old daughter, was "justifiable homicide."


Lana testifies at her daughter’s murder trial for the death of Johnny Stompanato, Lana’s gangland boyfriend


Sherman told People in a recent interview, “I strongly believe Lana Turner killed Johnny Stompanato, but I think she did so in the ultimate attempts to protect her family, her mother and her daughter.” The author also wrote that Stompanato said he would kill Turner and her family.

“I pored over documents, a lot of FBI files, a lot of the newspaper reporting of the day. And I took a 30,000-foot view of the case,” Sherman told People of the research process. “I realized that Lana and Johnny Stompanato didn’t just fall in love, that Lana Turner had been really targeted for an exploitation and extortion plot by not only Johnny Stompanato but Johnny Stompanato’s boss, the crime lord, Mickey Cohen, who’s really pulling the strings here.”

(Original Caption) 6/23/1958-Hollywood, CA: Cheryl Crane (Left) talks with her mother, Lana Turner,in the office of attorney William Pollack where depositions are being taken by Pollack in the $705,000 damage suit being brought in behalf of John Stompanato III. The suit is the result of the stabbing of Johnny Stompanato in April. Defendants are Miss Turner, her daughter, and stephen Crane, Cheryl's father. In background is attorney Jerry Giesler, who is acting for Miss Turner.


An interesting theory, if not impossible to prove all these years later, since Turner, known for classic films such as The Postman Always Rings Twice and Peyton Place, passed away in 1995 at the age of 74. Crane, however, is still alive and now 80 years old. I wonder what she would have to say about it!

Want more Tales of the Bizarre? Check out our other stories and get your fill of weird history.


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