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Lana Turner, Sweater Girl darling of the GIs, dies at 75


Los Angeles

Lana Turner, the icily elegant actress who starred in more than 50 films and whose famous "Sweater Girl" pictures made her a favourite pin-up for wartime GIs, has died, aged 75.

She had been fighting throat cancer for three years and died peacefully at her home in Los Angeles on Thursday night.

She had just completed seven weeks of radiation therapy. "She was doing fine," said her daughter, Cheryl Crane, who was at her side. "This was a total shock. She just took a breath and she was gone."

The comedian Milton Berle said yesterday: "She was not just beautiful in form, she was beautiful in heart. I think that we have lost a very valuable personality. Her beauty just seeped off the screen."

In the 1940s Turner was a blonde glamour queen in the old Hollywood tradition and was often cast in roles that showcased her spectacular figure and impeccable grooming as much as her acting talents.

According to legend, she was discovered at a soda fountain at the Top Hat Cafe in Hollywood. Asked whether she would like to be in the movies, the schoolgirl replied: "I don't know, I'll have to ask my mother." Two days later she signed a contract with Warner Bros.

Her most famous roles included the Hollywood star in The Bad and the Beautiful, the tragic heroine in Ziegfeld Girl and the two-timing housewife in The Postman Always Rings Twice. In 1957 she was nominated for an Oscar for Peyton Place.

Turner's roles personified the paradoxes of human personality. She was described as a cool, submissive beauty whose poise cloaked a wild, passionate interior. Her tempestuous private life often overshadowed her screen roles. She was married seven times. In 1958 her daughter Cheryl fatally stabbed Turner's mafioso lover, Johnny Stompanato, a henchman for the Mickey Cohen gang. The killing was ruled a justifiable homicide and the publicity did not affect the star's career.

Her many lovers included the billionaire Howard Hughes and the film star Tyrone Power, and among her husbands were the bandleader Artie Shaw, the producer Robert Easton and the actor Lex Barker. Her final marriage was to a nightclub hypnotist.

The daughter of an itinerant mining foreman, she was born Julia Jean Turner in 1920 in Idaho. During her early career as a pin-up she was dubbed "The Sweater Girl" after a walk-on part in the 1937 film They Won't Forget, for which she wore a tight sweater and skirt.

Obituary, page 14