Shooting victim at Spector house was Hollywood actress

By Andrew Buncombe
Wednesday 05 February 2003 01:00
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The woman allegedly shot dead by the record producer Phil Spector at his California mansion was a Hollywood actress who had developed a cult following for her role in a series of fantasy films.

Police said they discovered the body of Lana Clarkson sprawled on the marble foyer of Mr Spector's 10-bedroom home after being alerted by a limousine driver who had dropped the couple off early on Monday morning. While police declined to comment on the relationship between them, reports said the couple had only met the previous evening.

Mr Spector, 62, is expected to appear in court today to be formally charged with the murder of Ms Clarkson, 40.

He has secured the services of Robert Shapiro, the lawyer made famous by the OJ Simpson trial, and has been released on $1m (£600,000) bail.

Ms Clarkson attracted a huge following from her film roles and has appeared in a number of television programmes and commercials. The B-movies she appeared in included Deathstalker, Blind Date and Barbarian Queen, in which she played the sword-wielding title character.

She claimed the role was the prototype for the popular television show Xena: Warrior Princess. She also had bit parts in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Scarface and has been a regular at comic-book and film conventions. Ms Clarkson had posted comments on her website (www.livingdollproductions.com) in response to fans' questions about her security. "I have had some problems but they were dealt with by the authorities," she wrote.

She also said she considered herself a spiritual person. She said: "I like to be with someone who has some sort of spiritual practice, likes kids, does volunteer work and likes to travel. I hope to make some sort of difference in this lifetime. I'd like to find a partner who has the same aspiration."

Mr Spector was famous for developing the so-called Wall of Sound recording technique in the early Sixties, layering numerous instruments and voices to create an unprecedented texture and depth. Though he was known for working with musicians as varied as the Beatles, the Righteous Brothers and the Ronettes, he also developed a reputation in the Eighties as a virtual recluse.

The Ramones accused him in 1980 of brandishing a gun in the studio. Three years earlier Leonard Cohen called him a "madman out of control".

He bought his property, in Alhambra, 15 miles outside Los Angeles, in 1998 for $1.1m (£670,000). Built in 1926 by a rancher from the Basque country, the mansion has 33 rooms.

Investigators said Ms Clarkson and Mr Spector were the only people in the house at the time of the shooting, although others may have been elsewhere on the wooded estate. Police said they had recovered the weapon although they have refused to say where in the house it was found.

One of the producer's neighbours, who asked not to be named, told reporters she had heard three or four shots.

Friends of the record producer said they believed Mr Spector had calmed down in recent years and had developed a positive outlook. "None of this equates," Dave Kessel, a guitarist and one of Mr Spector's closest friends, told the Los Angeles Times. "He has been in great spirits and great shape, and feeling so good about everything. This doesn't fit into what I know about him and where he is."

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