Lana Turner and Johnny Stompanato

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!

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Join the Discussion!

  1. There are some very interesting parallels between Mickey Cohen’s henchman John Stompanato (born 10/10/1925) and George Piscitelle (born 10/06/1931). Both of these men were henchmen and errand boys for Mickey Cohen and extremely good looking. Stompanato worked for Cohen from 9/1948 to 4/1958 basically running women from Los Angeles/San Francisco to Las Vegas, he had a number of arrests when working for Mickey. Stompanato’s latter replacement was Georgie Piscitelle or (aka: George Perry, Gorgeous George). George worked as a henchman, numbers runner and lady-killer hook up for Mickey and his buddies in the Entertainment biz from approx. 9/1958 to the Fall months of 1961 when Mickey was scheduled to go to prison. Both of these men were born in October (Libra’s), both were almost exactly the same height and weight. Piscitelle also died a very violent death by gunshot in May of 1968 in Van Nuys California from a drug deal gone wrong at an apartment building.

  2. Wow, I cannot believe I had never heard anything about this story. Fascinating, simply fascinating.
    Blondie, you do uncover the amazing tidbits!

  3. Oh my goodness! This one is crazy! If the daughter did do it, who can blame her! That is so sad. Hollywood…so full of scandle. Makes for interesting reading (and story idea gathering).


  4. Just found your blog while reading another’s comments. After I read you were a Bronco fan and hated San Diego I had to check out your blog. I love all the old Hollywood mysteries, murders, I love that stuff. Great posts….c.

  5. Wow, what a story! I don’t know anything about Lana Turner, and certainly had no idea her and her daughter went through such a scandal. Thanks for sharing, Kori! I enjoyed the post on Virginia Rappe as well.

  6. Totally fascinating, and nice to get the correct version. Here in the UK, I remember reading in some newspaper or other that Stompanato was having an affair with the daughter, who killed him out of jealousy. Glad that wasn’t true!

    LOVE your new header, by the way.

  7. I really enjoyed reading your post on Lana and her family – I am always so intrigued by the lives and loves and crimes (at times) of the rich and famous 😀 – thank you for this post, cheers Val

  8. You really do have a great blog here. I have a blog myself which brings inspiration and guidance to people all around the world. Life is hard enough, and I hope my site can contribute anything positive to someone’s day.

    I’d like to exchange links with you to help spread some traffic around between each other. Please let me know if this is possible. Until then, keep up the good work.


  9. Oh wow, I had heard something about this story but I never knew all the details….amazing.

    So the daughter couldn’t be prosecuted? I guess only the two of them knew the truth – what happened to her daughter, is she still alive and did she ever talk about it at all? I wonder….

    I don’t know much about Fatty Arbuckle – what a sad life that poor girl had though.

    And the Hollywood cemetery tour sounds great – one day I am going to do all those tours :)

    Great posts Kori :)

  10. There definitely was a theory that Lana had done the “task” and allowed her daughter to take the blame as she was underage to be prosecuted. A sad story from the “good old days”!

  11. oh wow.. that is one interesting story! wow!!
    I love your blog! it’s so beautiful..i found it via the style mansion! :)

  12. Kori…. see the word (balsay) at the end of my post??? That was actually the word ID to post…. How stupid of me. I wondered why it didn’t get put in the box provided!! ROFLMBO!!

  13. I read a bio on Lana Turner a few years ago…. She was a gorgeous woman in her day. She, like so many other Hollywood women go for the “bad boy” & this is exactly what ya’ get!!
    Lana’s bad choices forever scarred her daughter’s life…..

  14. Bonjour Kori,
    Another rip roaring story. My big question – why do all these gorgeous women get hooked up with the worst men? It’s about so much more than beauty huh?
    THank you so much for coming by and sharing your sweet story about your and Jerry. I am so happy for you both, I bet you were over the moon when he came back from the cruise – and I’m sure he was looking forward to that incredible smile.
    Best of everything to you my friend.

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