Monday, December 10, 2007

The Inquest of the Century: A Photographic Record

Well they can't all be trials. April 4th, 2008 will mark the 50th anniversary of the murder of Johhny Stompanato by Cheryl Crane, daughter of Lana Turner (Yes, I know, I'm several months early on the anniversary but what the hell). On April 11, 1958 a Coroner's Inquest was held to determine if Cheryl should go to trial. Television cameras recorded away as Lana cried on the stand and told the woeful tale. Johnny was beating her (again) and Cheryl (14 at the time) came in and stabbed him to death. The Coroner's jury agreed - Justifiable Homicide. No trial.

Cheryl was no stranger to a difficult life either before or after. In 1988 Cheryl revealed in her biography that her stepfather, Lex Barker, had sexually abused her for years. When Lana found out she ordered him out of the house at gunpoint. She immediately divorced him but agreed to make no mention of it in the divorce papers. That's quite agreeable of Lana. Most parents would have strung the bastard up by his balls.

After the inquest she was placed in a center for trouble juveniles where she escaped in 1960 and was released in 1961 after recapture. Later in the sixties she was arrested for marijuana possession, which I know for the late sixties is totally shocking.

But she's had a productive and happy adult life since and appeared on TCM with Robert Osborne in 2001 discussing her mother's movies and her biography.

Lana and Cheryl on the set of The Merry Widow.

Lana and A-Hole Stompanato. He was a bodyguard for two-bit gangster Mickey Cohen. I guess that makes him one-bit.

Lana awaiting inquest. Her former husband, and Cheryl's father, Stephen Crane is seated next to her.

Cheryl in custody during the inquest.

The big moment. Lana takes the stand.

Years later in 2001, Cheryl interviews with Uber-Nice Guy Robert Osborne.


P.S. My favorite spell-check suggestion for "Stompanato" - "Stumpiest."