Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Lana Turner and Johnny Stompanato - Hollywood Homicide

Forbidden Fruit

Things moved quickly between Lana and Johnny.

"He was utterly considerate, and I began to warm toward him physically," Lana wrote. "His wooing was gentle, persistent and finally persuasive. By the time I found out his real name, we were already having an affair."

Stephan Crane, Lana Turner, Johnny Stompanato and Cheryl Crane (AP)
Stephan Crane, Lana Turner,
Johnny Stompanato and Cheryl
Crane (AP)

Johnny showered Lana and Cheryl, whose relationship was rocky, with gifts ranging from jewelry to a full-length portrait to a horse. Lana said she wore the jewels on screen in Peyton Place and that every time she saw the film after Johnny'sdeath, chills ran down her spine.

It wasn't long after their relationship became public that one of Lana's close friends broke the news that John Steele was actually John Stompanato. Lana said she had mixed feelings about dating a man who was a known gangster. To her he was dangerous and yet appealing.

"Call it forbidden fruit or whatever," she wrote. "This attraction was very deep maybe something sick within me and my dangerous captivation went far beyond lovemaking."

Lana was in England filming Another Time, Another Place with Sean Connery and she had hoped that when she said goodbye to Johnny in Los Angeles, that he would move on to another woman. Instead, Lana found herself lonely and asked Johnny to join her.

It was in England that Lana said Johnny became physically violent for the first time. He was bored and complaining bitterly about Lana's reluctance to be seen in public with him when the argument escalated into a shoving match.

"I reached for the phone, but he knocked it away and lunged for my throat," she wrote. "As his grip closed around my larynx, I managed to let out a loud scream, though I could feel the strain on my vocal chords."

Since Johnny had entered England illegally (he used a passport with the name John Steele), Lana was able to get him deported. Eventually she would have to return to the United States, where Johnny Stompanato would be waiting.


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