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CNN Larry King Live

Lana Turner's Daughter Tells Her Story

Aired August 08, 2001 - 21:00   ET



ROBERT YOUNG, ACTOR: The name is Bob, Carol.

LANA TURNER, ACTRESS: The name is Peggy, Johnny.


YOUNG: Maybe we better just call each other Mr. and Mrs.

TURNER: Maybe talking at all is just a waste of time.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a Hollywood princess, a headline grabbing story including homicide. Lana Turner's daughter, survivor of a public trip through a person hell joins us. Cheryl Crane for a gripping hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Great to welcome Cheryl Crane to LARRY KING LIVE, a return visit. Always nice to see her. This is in conjunction with a very special month of October coming on our sister network, Turner Classic Movies. There will be a documentary, "Lana Turner, a Daughter's Memoir." Its world TV premiere will be on TCM, Turner Classic Movies, on October 1.

And of course, the daughter is right here with us. And then Turner Classic Movies will showcase Lana Turner, 32 films and all, throughout the month of October. Cheryl Crane will co-hosting the presentation of those films with our friend Robert Osborne.

How did this all come about, this Lana Turner month?

CHERYL CRANE, LANA TURNER'S DAUGHTER: Well we were lucky enough to have Turner Classic Movies interested in doing the documentary. I wanted to do it. I wanted to show the world what a fun lady she was. You know?

KING: Is it based on your book?

CRANE: No, not really.

KING: Because that book was what, 13 years ago?

CRANE: Yes, yes, a while back. KING: What was the title again?

CRANE: "Detour."

KING: "Detour," yes.

CRANE: No, this was really based on wonderful old clips that we researched, things that haven't been seen in years and years. And it tells a story, tells a story of...

KING: Good and the bad?

CRANE: Good and the bad. We didn't pull punches, but I think you're going to see the woman she really was and that's what I wanted to show.

KING: To our younger viewers and you've had an extraordinary life. And we're going to go over all of it. Lana Turner was as big as you get in Hollywood, right?

CRANE: Absolutely, she was queen of MGM.

KING: Queen of MGM. All of her pictures did business. Lana Turner's name was on the marquee, bam, they came.


KING: Right. And you're the daughter of her second husband, right?


KING: Stephen Crane. And what did he do?

CRANE: Dad was a restaurateur. He tried to be an actor and fortunately got -- realized early that that wasn't his forte and then went into the restaurant business. We had the Luau Restaurant in Beverly Hills.

KING: The famed Luau on Rodeo Drive? That was one of the "in" spots, right?

CRANE: Yes, it was.

KING: And you were -- how long did that marriage last?

CRANE: About a hot four months. And they found out that his first marriage was not annulled -- was not legally divorced yet. So my mother got an annulment. And she found out she was pregnant with me. So then they get married again. And then get divorced. So it was very quick.

KING: Were you always close with your dad?

CRANE: Always. He was always in my life, you know. He was a great guy. KING: So there were no other children of that marriage, right?

CRANE: No, but they did remain friends. So that made it little bit easier for me.

KING: Did Lana have other children?

CRANE: No. She wasn't able to. She had RH negative, which today can be handled medically but in those days it was very, very difficult for a woman to carry to term.

KING: And she married how many times in all?

CRANE: Seven, if you count my father twice, eight, but seven different...

KING: So you went through some weird step fathers too?


KING: We'll get to that. But her -- she was not only the queen of -- she was -- was she the original sweater girl?

CRANE: I think she's the only one that was ever called that. She hated it, but they did tag her that.

KING: She was a pinup in World War II, right?

CRANE: Oh, yes. Tempest Turner...

KING: Tempest Turner.

CRANE: One the fighter pilots had her on the nose cone of his plane. Tempest Turner. We have photos of that. It was great.

KING: Why did they hate the sweater girl tag?

CRANE: I think it embarrassed her. You know, it was like 1937. That wasn't something she wanted to get tagged with, but it stuck.

KING: She was also, I remember being -- I spent an evening with her, taking her around to movie theaters and interviewing her in Miami years ago. She was small.

CRANE: Very tiny.

KING: That's the first thing that shocked me because on screen she was so dominant looking.

CRANE: Larger than life, you know. We see on the big screen.

KING: All right, what was it like being a star baby?

CRANE: Interesting. Privileged.

KING: Grow up Beverly Hills? CRANE: Extremely privileged. Yes, Beverly Hills, Bel Air.

KING: Did you go to all the right schools?

CRANE: I went to a lot of schools, but most of the right ones, yes. Went to Beverly Hills High School. I loved that.

KING: Were you spoiled?

CRANE: And private schools. Of course, I was spoiled. You know, my mother was a working mother so she compensated.

KING: Did you know the other -- did you know Christina Crawford?

CRANE: Oh, yes, I did. Yes. Christina was a little older than I was, but we were both at Flintridge Sacred Heart together and went to all the kids' parties, you know.

KING: Did you know was she was going through?

CRANE: I heard bits and pieces. You know, when you have governesses. Well, they used to call it the nanny network, but the kids would be playing. And the nannies would be buzz, buzz, buzz. You know, and little pictures and big ears. I used to overhear a lot of stuff. I didn't understand all of it, but I did hear a lot about her.

KING: You knew Liza Minelli, too, didn't you?

CRANE: Yes, we lived next door to each other for six years. And we were great friends. She...

KING: So you knew Judy?

CRANE: .. was a little. Yes, oh yes. We -- Liza and I traded mothers for a day or two.

KING: Boy, must have been an interesting neighborhood.

CRANE: It was very interesting. We had Judy Garland next door and then we had Art Linkletter was on the street and Bing Crosby. And oh, my goodness.

KING: What a life that was, huh?

CRANE: Yes. It really was.

KING: There's a lot bad to it, too. And we'll cover that, too. Cheryl Crane, she's going to host "Lana Turner: A Daughter Memoirs," its world TV premier on Turner Classic Movies on October 1. We'll come back with more of Cheryl Crane. What a story. Don't go away.


CRANE: From the time I was tiny child, I knew better than to mess up her hair or her makeup. It was her persona. Her way of viewing herself in the world, her comfort zone. She loved the adoration. Again, this was part of being a dreamer.

I'd go to the set and I would watch what she was doing. It was almost like watching a fairy tale. It was magic.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lana gave her daughter a lavish party at the Rivera Country Club. Cheryl was even presented with a brand new pony.

CRANE: It was everything she had dreamed of having when she was a child. And she was able to give it to me like a fairy tale.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The little girl who rarely saw her mother would later recall that day, I was lifted from a great depression. It gave me hope that my mother really did love me.


KING: Well, it's a pleasure to report how well you look and how well within yourself you appear. So all of this tragedy, you have appeared to come through it well.

CRANE: We were good survivors.

KING: Boy, that's what -- those kids had to be then, right?


KING: Because you had the best and worst of it all, right?

CRANE: And I think most of us came through pretty good.

KING: Now you, in your book you wrote that you were sexually molested at age 10 by your stepfather, who was Lex Barker, right, one of the Tarzans.

CRANE: Yes, that's correct.

KING: Did you tell your mother what happened?

CRANE: Well, you know, I was so terrified to tell anyone. And we know so much more about it today.

KING: You were 10?

CRANE: I was 10. And he threatened that if I told anyone I would be the one to be sent away. And I believed him. And children believe adults. And I think if anything that came out of that is the fact that anyone that is having this problem, I don't care you know who they are today, go tell somebody because there is help. And as child, you don't realize that you can be -- somebody can step in and stop it.

KING: What a mark that leaves.

CRANE: Well, I think it certainly took me some years to come to terms with it. But...

KING: What was it like then to be with your mom and dad after you knew what your stepfather had done to you?

CRANE: In those days Larry, you didn't talk about things.

KING: You didn't tell year father?

CRANE: I told my father. Oh, yes. I mean, first I told my grandmother, who was my mother's mother, my rock, who you know, really kind of raised me. And she insisted I then tell my mother, but this was after three years of it going on.

KING: What did your father do?

CRANE: He luckily was in the hospital. He had had an operation or I think we have gotten up and killed him. I really do. He was so angry.

KING: So you tell your mother years later and she says what? Is she still married to him when you tell her?

CRANE: Oh, yes. This was after three years. And she -- I was at my grandmother's. She went home. She went upstairs. He was sleeping. The story she tells me she stock a gun from the bedside table and held it to his head. And he woke up and said, you know, "What's going on?" And the interesting thing was that she didn't say anything to him, just said "Get Out."

And he said to her, "I don't know what your daughter told you but she's lying." And my mother hadn't mentioned me. So, you know, it was like -- she realized at that point.

KING: But you ran away at 13.

CRANE: Yes. I rebelled early.

KING: Why? Against Lana?

CRANE: I think I rebelled against the whole fishbowl life that we were living. You know, every move was fodder for somebody. You know, and I resented it. I just wanted to be Jane Doe.

KING: Where did you run to?

CRANE: Downtown Los Angeles. It's again -- surviving. You know, by all rights, I shouldn't have survived that.

KING: How long were you gone?

CRANE: Oh, about four hours. They found me quickly, but it was in middle of the night around midnight, down in you know, Main Street near the train station.

KING: The most tragic thing that occurred in your life, the thing that got worldwide headlines, there's no other way to put it, you killed someone.


KING: Never charged with crime, were you?

CRANE: No, it was justifiable homicide.

KING: And the person you killed was Johnny Stompanato. He was an kind of a small-time hoodlum, right?

CRANE: He was one of Mickey Cohen's...

KING: Mafia boys, yes.

CRANE: Mafia boys.

KING: And your mother was dating him?

CRANE: She was very involved in a very abusive relationship to him.

KING: He was abusive to her?

CRANE: Yes, extremely. I did not know this. It all really kind of started the night of the Academy Awards.

KING: Was she intending to marry him to your knowledge?

CRANE: I don't think so because she was trying already to get away from him.

KING: This was right after Lex Barker?

CRANE: No, no, this was...

KING: Sometime later?

CRANE: It was sometime later. I was -- well I was 14 then. So.

KING: So it was four years at least, after Lex had?

CRANE: Mm-hmm.

KING: And was Johnny Stompanato good to you?

CRANE: Very kind. Very kind, gave me a beautiful Arabian horse, went out of his way to not ruffle any feathers as far as I was concerned.

KING: So you didn't know what he was doing?

CRANE: I knew none of this. KING: Was he dashing looking too?

CRANE: Well, he was very dark and Latin looking, which was definitely my mother's type, you know.

KING: We'll be back with more of the incredible saga of Cheryl Crane, the daughter of Lana Turner. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stompanato, an ex-Marine, was buried with full military honors. And Mickey Cohen launched a public crusade to have Lana and Cheryl indicted for his murder.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lana's dramatic testimony at coroner's inquest cleared them both.

TURNER: I said don't ever touch me again. I'm absolutely finished. This is the end. And I want you to get out.


KING: We're certainly looking forward to October on Turner Classic Movies. She'll host the special documentary that kicks it all off, Lana Turner month. All right, Johnny Stompanato, what happened that night? It was Good Friday.

CRANE: Well, it all started the night...

KING: 1958.

CRANE: Right of the Academy Awards, which was a week earlier. And that was when I first heard a violent argument going on after the awards.

KING: Was he living with her?

CRANE: No, this was at the hotel. We had stayed at Bel Air Hotel. And then mother rented a house on Bedford in Beverly Hills, which during next week was vacation time for Easter. We moved into.

And it really then she came in and told me. I pressed her to tell me what was going on because I would hear these awful fights going on.

KING: Awful fights?

CRANE: Awful fights, screaming and yelling and smashing glasses and just you know, things I wasn't used to hearing. 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 react was, "Well, mother, call the police."

And of course, that was last thing in the world she would do because publicity. You know, I mean, it would have been -- she felt the end of her career.

KING: Did it also shock you since he was so nice to you?

CRANE: I would have found it hard to believe had I not heard these things for myself.

KING: Yes. What happened that terrible night?

CRANE: Well, that night she told me, "This is it. I'm going to get rid of him. You stay in your room." And the fighting escalated to such a point, that I was trying to do some homework and I had the TV on. And it was louder than anything. I couldn't concentrate.

And they were in her bedroom. The door was closed. And I went to the door, I knocked on the door. I said, "Mom, let me in. I need to talk to you." I was you know, hoping to get them apart.

And she wouldn't open the door. And 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 going to kill my grandmother. that he would, "And I'll get your daughter, too."

I think my fear was number one, my mother. The face, you know, I mean to a child this is means a lot more than it should have.

KING: You loved your mom?

CRANE: Oh, I adored her.

KING: She was a good mother to you?

CRANE: Yes, I adored her.

KING: This was not Christina Crawford.

CRANE: Oh, God, no. Please no, never.

KING: So what do you do then?

CRANE: I went down the stairs. The kitchen was right at the end of stairs. And there was a knife on the counter. And I picked it up. And I ran back up to the top of the stairs. I really, Larry, had no idea what I was going to do. It just was there. It was like I need protection.

And suddenly the door flew open. And he was coming towards me. Mother was standing there. Looking at me and coming toward me with his hand like this up raised. Well, it turned out he had hangers, clothes, but I didn't know. All you could see was, you know, this happen at two seconds. And he came toward me. And I stepped toward him and it was over.

KING: You stabbed him where, the stomach?

CRANE: Uh-huh. And I don't even remember doing it. I guess my hand just came up.

KING: What did your mother do?

CRANE: She -- well the first thing I can remember is he looked at me and he said, "Oh, my God, Cheryl, what have you done?" And I turned and ran. So I don't know what happened in there, but a little bit later, my mother...

KING: Where'd you run to?

CRANE: My bedroom which was the other opposite end of the hall. Mother came in and says, "You've got to help me. You've got to help me. Come back. And she said, "Get me wash cloths. Get me, you know, and I saw him laying on the floor. And I turned around and ran away again. And I call my father on the phone. And we were maybe four, five blocks from the restaurant. And he was there within moments. Meanwhile, I guess my mother was making phone calls but he came. And...

KING: Did he die there?

CRANE: Yes, yes, apparently almost instantly.

KING: I don't have to say this. Don't go away.


STEPHEN CRANE, CHERYL CRANE'S FATHER: I got the call that this is what happened at the house, and threw on some clothes and got over there shortly after it happened.

I will tell you something I've never told anyone before. As grief stricken as she was over what happened that night, when they took Cheryl away, she wanted to go to the morgue to see Johnny. That would have been the most horrendous thing that could have happened to her, public relations-wise. And I literally blocked the door and said, "No, you're not going."




L. TURNER: It was so fast. At first, we thought she had hit him in the stomach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reporters praised it as Lana's greatest performance. The jury took just 20 minutes to hand in their verdict of justifiable homicide.


KING: We're back with Cheryl Crane. Eventually the police. Right? The body's taken away. And you are taken to juvenile hall. Right? Were you charged?

CRANE: They took me to the Beverly Hills police station. I think that they were so careful to make sure they dotted all their I's and crossed all their T's. And they didn't want anyone to show -- say they showed favoritism, you know, a star's kid or anything like that, because they kept me overnight at the Beverly Hills police station in a cell.

And then the next morning, they fingerprinted me and took me to juvenile hall. And I stayed there for about three and a half weeks. And meantime, they coroners inquest. And...

KING: What was that?

CRANE: Well, at that point, it was justifiable homicide. But because I was then involved in juvenile hall, I became caught up in the juvenile justice system. So that was a whole other...

KING: How long were you incarcerated all together?

CRANE: The 3 1/2 weeks. And then I was released.

KING: Yes. But then it became the legal. People said your mother was unfit to be a mother. What was she doing with someone like this? Your father fought for custody, right?

CRANE: It was horrible.

KING: You became a bouncing ball?

CRANE: A ping-pong ball. And all I can say looking back is thank God for my grandmother because they were asking in the court, who do you want to live with? And I, you know, I couldn't say I want to live with my mother and hurt my father. And I couldn't say I wanted to live with my father. It would've destroyed my mother.

So thank God I had gran, you know. And that's who they released me to. It wasn't very easy for my grandmother.

KING: Did it stay that way? Did she remain until you were 18?

CRANE: I lived -- well, no. It stayed that way for about two years and then I did move back.

KING: With your mother.


KING: And your father accepted that?

CRANE: Yes. yes, but they mended their fences.

KING: When did your mother die?

CRANE: June 29, 1995.

KING: How old was she?

CRANE: 74.

KING: And your father passed when?

CRANE: Passed -- I lost my dad in '85.

KING: 10 years earlier?


KING: He was young man?

CRANE: He was in late 60s. He's was older than my -- about five years older than my mother.

KING: I remember so many things were going on at that time. Front page news everywhere. Rumors were that your mother did it and that you were covering for her in a sense. You read all that stuff?

CRANE: Oh, yes. I read them all.

KING: So how did you deal with the fact that inside you knew you had killed someone? I mean it was deserved. He obviously was beating everybody.

CRANE: It doesn't make it any easier, Larry. You know? Years and time, and a lot of soul-searching help, but I have something that you know, a lot of people will never have experienced. And that's not an easy thing, but I don't dwell on it. I've come to terms with it, but it is what it is. It's not pleasant.

KING: How did your friends treat you? How did Hollywood treat you?

CRANE: Well, I would say overall I was treated very well. I think people were very curious about me particularly when I started Beverly Hills high school, but I made friends. And, you know, held my head up.

KING: Eventually it goes away, right?

CRANE: Well, eventually, it -- something else happens that catches peoples' attention.

KING: Your mom was popular though, wasn't she? She was a popular person in southern California, right?

CRANE: Oh, yes, extremely.

KING: She wasn't removed or withdrawn? She was a?

CRANE: She was a fun loving person. In fact, in the documentary, her old makeup man, Dell Armstrong, talks about how the grips and crew and the camera men, they used to pull strings just to get on her films because she was so much fun.

KING: Yes, I was surprised at how much fun she was on a tour. She was like terrific and very cooperative and a good interview.

CRANE: You know, she'd go to party usually late, but could you tell where she was in the room by the sound of the laughter. She moved across the room. I mean she just had a great wit.

KING: Sexy.

CRANE: Oh, that too.

KING: "The Postman Always Rings Twice" with John Garfield.


KING: One of the sexiest movies ever made.

CRANE: And they didn't show a thing.

KING: Didn't show -- never took a strap off.


KING: All right, then your mother comes out, "An Imitation of Life" a few years later.

CRANE: Oh, yes.

KING: What a movie that was.

CRANE: Yes, it was. That was something.

KING: That got her a great deal of attention, too, right?

CRANE: I was very proud of the job she did in that.

KING: And that was a -- that broke a lot of barriers that movie?

CRANE: I believe so, yes.

KING: Racial barriers.


KING: I mean, it was ahead of its time certainly, right?


KING: And you, what were you doing? You were going wild, right?


KING: You became a wild kid?

CRANE: I was the wild kid. I think it was in my genes actually. My mother liked to party too.

KING: We'll find what wild meant. We'll be back with Cheryl Crane. Don't go away.


L. TURNER: I don't understand why you would want to hurt your mother or me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told her she has to be patient. Things will work out.

SARAH JANE: How? Miss Laura, you don't know what it means to be different.

L. TURNER: Have I ever treated you as if you why different? Has Susie? Has anyone here?

SARAH JANE: No. You've been wonderful but...

L. TURNER: Then don't ever do this to us again. Or to yourself. It won't solve anything, Sarah Jane.




LANA TURNER, ACTRESS: Do you love me so much that nothing else matters?


TURNER: There's -- there's one thing we could do that would fix everything for us.

GARFIELD: What? Pray for something to happen to Nick?

TURNER: Something like that.

GARFIELD: Oh, my God.

TURNER: Well, you suggested it yourself once, didn't you?

GARFIELD: I was only joking.

TURNER: Were you?

GARFIELD: Yes, I was. TURNER: Well, had you started to think about it a little?

GARFIELD: Maybe I said it, but I didn't really mean it.

TURNER: Well, I say it again now, and I do mean it.


KING: After all of this, I guess, not to be shocked, Cheryl Crane is with us, she goes berserk, right? I mean, you -- you wrote in the book you got into heroin. You got a car, and you went nuts.

CRANE: Well, I didn't -- I don't think I got into heroin exactly, but I did flirt around with drugs. There wasn't as much of it around in those days. I think that saved me.

I rebelled, you know. That's where the title of my book came from, "Detour." You know, my life, after Stompanato, just took a turn, and I went in the direction I wasn't supposed to go in. I mean, no one had ever imagined I would go in that direction.

KING: You were eventually sent to a...

CRANE: A reformatory for a time. About eight months and...

KING: What was that like?

CRANE: That was an education.

KING: Did you come out hardened or helped?

CRANE: I wouldn't say I came out helped or even really hardened. I came out very determined. I was going to make it to 21.

KING: That was your goal.

CRANE: That was my goal, just to make it, because -- and it was true. The minute I turned 21, my whole life changed.

KING: Why?

CRANE: I went to work for my dad. All the things that I kept getting caught doing that were illegal for me to do were no longer illegal. Doors opened for me. I was able to -- to live my life without...

KING: What kind of work have you done over the years?

CRANE: Well, I was in the restaurant business for 15 years, and I went into real estate, which I'm still doing with Classic Homes in Palm Springs. I...

KING: You live in Palm Springs.

CRANE: I live in Palm Springs, and I sell all those wonderful homes that Mother and her friend, Sinatra, and everybody used to live in and party in.

KING: Classic Homes.

CRANE: And they're still there.

KING: They're in the flats in Beverly Hills.

CRANE: Yes. No. In Palm Springs.

KING: Oh, in Palm Springs.

CRANE: Palm Springs.

KING: Oh, they all had homes there, too, right?

CRANE: Yes. Oh, yes. Yes, and the wonderful, you know, modern...

KING: So -- and, in fact, the day you got out of reform school, I'm told, was the day that JFK was inaugurated president.

CRANE: Yes. Didn't we pick a nice day? I didn't bump him off the headlines.

KING: So you -- still, though, until 21, you had brushes with the law.

CRANE: I had brushes.

KING: Now how was your mother handling all this?

CRANE: I think my mother, you know, just hung on, you know, just get her to 21, just make her safe until 21, and like I said, I...

KING: You even went to a mental institution.

CRANE: Yes, I did.

KING: What were -- what did they think was wrong? Suicide attempt?

CRANE: I had that. I had one of those. I think they put me there really because they didn't know where else to put me. You know, it was like I was a hot potato.

Everybody was so afraid that they would be criticized. And I wasn't doing things that bad. I mean, I just kept getting caught. I wasn't smart about it, you know.

KING: Today, they'd be mild?

CRANE: Yes. Very.

KING: What was your mother's attitude toward you through this?

CRANE: Very supportive. I think she understood what I was going through.

KING: When you were in reform school, did she visit you?

CRANE: Yes, she did. She...

KING: When you were in the mental institution, did she visit you?

CRANE: She came back once.

KING: Was she afraid of the publicity that would bring?

CRANE: I think, by that time, our publicity had been on such a roller coaster, I don't -- I don't think she was afraid of it.

KING: So...

CRANE: She didn't enjoy it, but I don't think she was afraid of it.

KING: So was Cheryl Crane kind of like the bad little girl of Hollywood?

CRANE: For a time, yeah, I was.

KING: And then your mother in 1982 writes an autobiography.

CRANE: Yes, she did.

KING: "Lana: The Lady, The Legend, The Truth." Did you like that book?

CRANE: It was a good title.

KING: You didn't like the book.

CRANE: I -- I liked the book, but I knew a lot was left out. But I understood why. My mom had a very difficult time talking about anything unpleasant. You know, she grew up in...

KING: How do you write an...

CRANE: ... in the dream factory. You know, you're supposed to have a happy ending. Everything is supposed to be beautiful. So -- although she had to touch on some of these things, I didn't feel that her real heart and emotion was there. The woman I knew, the talks I had had with her weren't in the book.

KING: It was skirted.

CRANE: Yes, yes.

KING: When we come back, Cheryl Crane comes out of the closet. Don't go away.


RICARDO MONTALBAN, ACTOR: I lead, not you. You're not the man.

LANA TURNER, ACTRESS: Well, I don't particularly want to be.

MONTALBAN: Good. That fits in with my plans exactly.

TURNER: When did you have time to make plans?

MONTALBAN: In a matter of seconds. In a stable.




LANA TURNER, ACTRESS: I'm a very lucky girl. Six fur coats, seven diamond bracelets, an apartment on Park Avenue.

HEDY LAMAR, ACTRESS: What are you trying to do to yourself?

TURNER: What am I trying to do? Don't you know? I'm counting my blessings, Sandy. Counting my blessings!


KING: We're back with Cheryl Crane.

Reminder: On October 1st, on Turner Classic Movies, you will see "Lana Turner: A Daughter's Memoirs," its world TV premier, and then throughout the month, 32 Turner Films co-hosted by our guest and Robert Osborne.

When did you know that you were a lesbian?

CRANE: I think when I was about -- looking back, I could pinpoint it as early as maybe 8 years old, having feelings for -- crushes that -- you know...

KING: On girls.

CRANE: On girls. And telling my mother and having her say, "Oh, Darling, that's -- I had those, too." You know, "You'll grow out of that." And I didn't.

KING: So you don't think it had anything to do with events like Lex Boxter and Lester and Stompanato and...

CRANE: Well, you know, I don't. I don't personally believe...

KING: I mean, you would be able to make a case, Pop Psychology 101.

CRANE: Certainly, but I'm not anti-men. In fact, the majority of my friends are guys and always have been. I love men. I enjoy them. I just...

KING: Who did you...

CRANE: I'm just, you know, not attracted to them.

KING: Who were you able to tell you were gay?

CRANE: Well, I told my mother, my father, and my grandmother. And anybody else who would listen.

KING: And what did they say?

CRANE: You know, Larry, they were very supportive. I think that -- first of all, my parents themselves weren't prejudiced people. They were pretty much hip people of their time, and we had been through so much in our life, that this was really kind of a minor detail to them. You know, they wanted...

KING: It could be worse, right?

CRANE: Yeah. They wanted me to grow up. They wanted me to be alive and grow up and be happy. That was really their focus.

KING: Do you think coming out helped you grow up?

CRANE: Yes, because I also believe that the worst thing is secrets. Secrets can destroy you, whatever they are.

KING: So to live a secret life has got to be worse.

CRANE: It is -- it's got to be the worst thing you can do to yourself.

KING: Therefore, did you date guys when you were in school?

CRANE: I -- I did, but I was also kind of up front about it. When, you know, they wanted to neck and all that, I said, "I'm not interested."

KING: Just found no satisfaction.

CRANE: And it just didn't -- you know, that wasn't my direction.

KING: By the way, we've asked this of everyone -- heterosexuals, too -- as to how they -- you don't know why you're lesbian. Are -- you don't know why you're attracted to the same...

CRANE: No, I think it's...

KING: ... to the same gender.

CRANE: I think it's innate. I think it's something genetic. I believe it is. I think -- sure, traumas can happen, but I think the basic gene is there to begin with.

KING: You talk about your grandma a lot and how close you were with her. How did she handle this? Now that's of a different era.

CRANE: My grandmother, when it came to my mother and I, could do no wrong. She was -- she adored us. Both of us. It was like -- you know, she didn't know which one she loved more, you know. Who was in the room, you know.

KING: So she didn't say to you, "You can't do this to"...

CRANE: Oh, never. Never. Never. She was -- she was my rock. I -- I could tell her anything -- and did -- and -- and...

KING: And Lana was very close to her, right?

CRANE: Yes. Extremely. We were only children of only children of only children. So I think that's interesting, too.

KING: Oh. And when did Grandma die?

CRANE: In 1982. She was living with me in Hawaii at the time. And...

KING: She was -- old age?

CRANE: She -- actually, from emphysema. So it was difficult.

KING: Smoker.

CRANE: Yeah. Weren't we all?

KING: Were you a smoker or still a smoker?

CRANE: No. No, I haven't -- I quite, but, I mean...

KING: Did Lana smoke?

CRANE: Oh, yes. She died of throat cancer, and you don't get throat cancer from not smoking.

KING: What were her last days like?

CRANE: Well...

KING: Did she know she was dying?

CRANE: Yes. They were -- she had gone through radiation, and she was fine for a while, and then it recurred. And believe it or not, we couldn't get a doctor to come to the apartment. You know, I know they don't make house calls, but we could not, and I was desperate because...

KING: She was living in an apartment.

CRANE: Uh-huh. And -- Century City. In a condo. I mean, it was...

KING: Nice condo. CRANE: Yes. Her condo. Beautiful place. And I couldn't get a doctor to come to her, and she wouldn't go, and...

KING: Why not?

CRANE: She just wouldn't. She was -- could be very stubborn, and I'll tell you a very quick, wonderful story. Warren Beatty called. He wanted to do an interview with her for a documentary, and I told him what was going on.

And he called Washington, D.C., found a doctor there that recommended the head of the hospital in radiation here at Cedar Sinai who came to her apartment and got her back into radiation and gave her eight months of comfort.

Otherwise, it would have been a horrible situation. So I owe him a lot.

KING: She died at home.

CRANE: Yes. , she did. She -- that's where she wanted to be, and she was comfortable, and...

KING: Were you with her?

CRANE: Yes. And it was peaceful.

KING: We'll be back with more of Cheryl Crane. Don't go away.


LANA TURNER, ACTRESS: Years ago, if you were an actress, all you had to do was go in and act to the best of your ability. Now you have to work out participation deals and money spread over years, and it almost takes the fun out of doing the part because you have to be so very careful what kind of deals you make. You may love the script, but if the deal isn't right, you turn it down. Now that's not fun.




LANA TURNER, ACTRESS: It's all right if you don't love me anymore. I know things like that can happen. You still do. Don't say anything. Just hold me close.


KING: By the way, Cheryl Crane is also -- you're a breast cancer survivor, right?

CRANE: Yes. Yes, I am.

KING: Total mastectomy and the whole thing?

CRANE: I had the -- the poison, the burn, and the surgery.

KING: But you're all right? It's clear?

CRANE: I'm fine. Completely cleared. I was diagnosed three years ago, and -- and it was a scary time, but I'm fine.

KING: This is always debated movie stars. How good an actress was Lana Turner?

CRANE: I think she was one of the best. I really do.

KING: I thought so, too. I saw all the films. She was a star who could act.

CRANE: Yes. And I think...

KING: And she played different roles.

CRANE: Many very different roles, and it was something...

KING: And wasn't afraid to play mothers later...


KING: ... and play matronly kind of roles. She was -- she took it on. Some people said, I am told by my crack producers, that people thought she was such a good actress that, when she testified in court at your trial, whatever it was, she was acting.

CRANE: Well, what I can say to that, Larry, is that if you know any mother that would put her child through that, it wasn't my mother. She would never have done that to me. She was -- she was a good mom.

KING: So, in other words, if she had been...

CRANE: If she had done it...

KING: If she had killed him...

CRANE: ... she would never have let that happen to me, and if it were true, you know, she's gone. I wouldn't still be sitting here saying, "Yes, it's true. I killed someone," if it wasn't true. I mean, I wouldn't do it to myself if it wasn't true.

KING: Did you ever have threat from Stompanato's friends?

CRANE: Yes. Yes, we did, and we were under protection for a time and, eventually, you know, it -- they went away, but there were very serious threats.

KING: You have a relationship of your own now.

CRANE: Yes. Thirty years.

KING: Thirty years.


CRANE: Yes. Thirty years.

KING: Wow. All right. What's the secret of a successful lesbian relationship?

CRANE: We're best friends. I mean, I -- if I knew the secret, you know, I would write a book and make a fortune. I -- I don't know, you know.

KING: No one knows the secret.

CRANE: No, but...

KING: How did you meet?

CRANE: At a big Hollywood party. She was under the pool table with Marlon Brando, as a matter of fact, chatting.

KING: I know Marlon, and that's certainly feasible.

CRANE: Yeah. Yeah.

KING: Marlon would prefer to chat under the pool table.


KING: And what were you doing under the pool table?

CRANE: I wasn't. I just met them there. I was at the party, and it was at Wally Cox's house.

KING: Who was Marlon's best friend.

CRANE: Right.

KING: Did the two of you ever try to adopt a child?

CRANE: No, no. Puppies, but no -- no children.

KING: Never really seriously thought about it, right?

CRANE: No, I don't -- I don't feel I'm maternal enough. I mean, it's -- mother-daughter relationships, mother-son relationships are too important to casually enter into, and I really -- I never had the urge to be a mother, and I think you have to really want to have children, to have them.

KING: Through all of this, you would say, as wild as this life has been, you had good parents.

CRANE: I had great parents, and I was very fortunate, I think, to have the parents I had.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Cheryl Crane right after this.


LANA TURNER, ACTRESS: Allison, come back here immediately.

DIANE VARSI, ACTRESS: Listen, Mother, if you keep this up, some day, I will do what you keep accusing me of.

TURNER: I wouldn't doubt it. You're just like your father about sex. In that way, you're just like him.

VARSI: Don't you say things about my father. He was a wonderful man...

TURNER: Wonderful!

VARSI: ... and fine and good to you, and that's what you told me. So don't blame him for anything.

TURNER: Wonderful and fine and good. That's what I told you? Well, I lied. I liked about him because I was ashamed of him and myself.

VARSI: Well, then why did you marry him?

TURNER: I didn't! And he didn't marry me because he already had a wife.




CLARK GABLE, ACTOR: I never was one to stand outside scratching on doors. I don't know what I'm doing out here now. This courtship is over.

LANA TURNER, ACTRESS: One more knock on that door, and this marriage is over. I've been listening to you, Candy Johnson, and that's always a mistake.

Courtship? A fine idea of courtship you have. Who cares if you run away from home? Who cares if they used to call you fatty? What a woman wants to know about a man is whether he has decent, honorable emotions.

GABLE: I've got decent, honorable emotions.

TURNER: Stop scratching on that door! You can't...


KING: We're back, Cheryl. A couple things that they want to know in our control room. CRANE: Oh, OK.

KING: Because they're all so young, they don't even know -- they think Lana Turner was just in black-and-white movies. OK. Did she have a favorite leading man?

CRANE: Well, the romance of her life -- they never made a movie together. It was Tyrone Power. He was the one that got away.

KING: Not a bad-looking guy.

CRANE: No. What a hot couple they were.

KING: Oh, I'll bet.

CRANE: Unbelievable.

KING: He died too young. He had a heart attack and died suddenly.

CRANE: Yes. Yes.

KING: As did John Garfield.


KING: Died of a heart attack. Did she like John?

CRANE: She did, but she didn't have attraction with him, although on the screen, they were fire.

KING: "The Postman Always Rings Twice." Whoa.

CRANE: Yeah. They're fire, but they never, you know, had something away from the set.

KING: Did she have others she liked to work with?

CRANE: Oh, yes. Gable. And they -- they did make four movies together.

KING: Did you ever watch your mom work?

CRANE: Oh, sure. I wasn't quite sure what she was doing, but I loved it. I mean, it was fascinating.

KING: Go to MGM a lot?

CRANE: Oh, yeah. And rode ponies.

KING: Go to the commissary?

CRANE: Oh, sure. Sure.

KING: Now then, of course, there wasn't the "National Enquirer" and "Star" and "The Globe." CRANE: No, no.

KING: Could you imagine what they'd have done...

CRANE: Oh, yes.

KING: ... as bad as this was, with Stompanato?

CRANE: Yes. But I think we were really kind of the first of that emblazoned...

KING: Major tabloid story.

CRANE: ... tabloids. I mean, even "The Times" and "The Examiner" became tabloid-like in their headlines with that. Prior to that, the studios pretty much controlled the press.

You know, we had Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper and Dorothy Manners, and they -- they were all very much beholden, let's say, to the studios. So they didn't really muckrake very much.

KING: All right. You're all set. These are all taped, right, so we're all set to go with the...

CRANE: Yes. I'm very excited about it.

KING: ... with the documentary which will air on October the 1st and then the rest of the month 32 movies.

The documentary is "Lana Turner: A Daughter's Memoir," its world TV premier on Turner Classic Movies October 1, and then Turner Classic Movies will showcase Lana Turner in 32 films, star-of-the-month festival in October. Cheryl Crane and Robert Osborne will co-host the presentation of those films.

Thank you so much for coming by.

CRANE: Thank you.

KING: Cheryl Crane, the daughter of Lana Turner. Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Larry King from Los Angeles. Good night.