If Spector's story is a tragedy, what about the woman he killed?

His trials masked the career of the fated actress more famous in death than in life

Lana Clarkson always dreamed of being a star. She nearly made it in life, but it was in death that she achieved the most undesirable lasting fame of all. Her shooting, at the home of the music legend Phil Spector, put her face on front pages around the world. But even this form of headlining was not to last. As Spector was sentenced on Friday to 19 years for the second-degree murder of Clarkson, the one-time B-movie actress had long been reduced to a walk-on part, playing second fiddle even to the succession of daft wigs that Spector sported during his six years of legal tribulations.

As the man who produced many of the immortal hits of the Sixties and Seventies headed to prison, with his lawyers vowing a feisty appeal, it seems, at the very least, good manners to remember the woman who will now for ever be immortalised by her death rather than by anything she did on screen.

Clarkson, who made her screen debut in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, was all but 6ft tall, blond, athletic, and had no objection to appearing partially clad. She was thus perfect for playing sword-wielding fantasy action heroes who shed their clothes at appropriate moments. She excelled in such nonsense as Roger Corman's Barbarian Queen, and had something of a cult following. She was also a weekly volunteer for Aids charities, and a tireless attraction at comic-book conventions. But her longed-for breakthrough into comedy never happened, and, as she passed 30, her film career seriously stalled.

Then, in January 2003, she was reduced to taking a job as a cocktail bar hostess at the House of Blues nightclub on Sunset Strip. Less than a month later, as she worked in the VIP lounge, she was introduced to a client she was told was a Big Somebody, although his name meant nothing to her.

For whatever reason – and discussing the techniques he used to achieve his famed "Wall of Sound" on such hits as the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and The Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron" would not have been among them – Clarkson agreed at the end of her shift to accompany Spector back to his home. A few hours later, she died when a gun was forced into her mouth and the trigger was pulled. Spector's chauffeur told police he heard a gunshot, saw Spector emerge holding a gun and say: "I think I killed somebody." A very dead Clarkson was found slumped in a chair by the front door. The music millionaire was duly charged.

Thus began the tortuous legal journey that ended with Friday's sentencing. Defence lawyers came and went with the passing seasons. A first trial went on for six months before being abandoned after jurors failed to reach a verdict, and then came a second trial, itself lasting five months. The prosecution case was built on Spector's flakiness and his track record of waving guns at women when they tried to leave his presence. The defence claimed Clarkson shot herself, and made much of the lack of forensic evidence against the music producer.

Spector has no shortage of money for an appeal. If it fails, the 69-year-old will not be released until he is 88. But then Lana Clarkson did not even make half that age.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Male Behaviour Support Assistant vacancy in Penarth

£55 - £65 per day + Travel Scheme and Free Training: Randstad Education Cardif...

BA/PM,EMIR/Dodd-Frank,London,£450-650P/D

£450 - £650 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

SEN Learning Support Assistant vacancy in Penarth

£55 - £65 per day + Travel Scheme and Free Training: Randstad Education Cardif...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz