Lana Turner, No More Sweater Girl (1946) 🇺🇸
Rendezvous with Lana
This is it! The only interview Lana Turner gave out while she was visiting in New York — and columnist Earl Wilson got it for modern screen!
by Earl Wilson
My editorial page was all written and ready to go this month, when along came a change to get a scoop story on Lana Turner by Earl Wilson, that witty and widely-read Broadway columnist. With no place else in this issue to put it, I had to move out and make room. Please forgive me; I’ll see you next month. — Al Delacorte
Lana Turner walked into the huge living room of her suite at the Sherry Netherland, said “Hello, Earl,” and put out her hand. We shook hands.
She walked over to the divan and sat down.
With a gesture, she invited me over.
I sat down on the divan, two or three feet away.
For the next hour I sat on the divan with Lana Turner, interviewing her, taking down all she said in my notebook. A representative of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer sat across from us, but Miss Turner did most of the talking, just as I had hoped. Almost at once, Miss Turner’s maid answered the phone out in the foyer. The maid stuck her head in and said, “Bob Hope calling from California.”
“Bob Hope?” said Miss Turner in a surprised voice — then she got it.
“Will you have them hold all calls?” she said. “That’s not Bob Hope. It’s the autograph fans downstairs. They use anybody’s name to get you on the phone.”
“Have the kids been able to get upstairs here to your room?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “They haven’t let them up, which is nice, on account of the baby.”
She was referring to her daughter, Cheryl Christina, or Cherry, who’s about three. Earlier, while waiting for her, I’d stood looking out of the high windows, down at the swaying trees in Central Park, wondering whether this beautiful glamor puss would be curt, wise-crackerish, or difficult.
“She’s as beautiful close up as she is in the movies,” was my first thought now. Her glisteny white gold hair was in bangs. She’d dropped eight pounds due to a siege of colds. Now her bouncy 110 pounds were packed compactly into a black jersey dress, loosely tailored, primly high at the neck. She wore gold earrings that turned out to be little hearts. She wore a wide plastic belt with “LANA-LANA-LANA” on it. I sat close enough to catch the scent of her perfume. It was tuberose, her favorite scent. On the table in front of the divan was a bouquet.
“From Bobbie Hutton and his manager, Al Melnick,” she said.
Bobbie Hutton being Robert Hutton to those who don’t know him so well.
“What are your picture plans?” I asked.
off with the old...
“We’re right in the midst of making a pattern for my career,” she said. “We’re trying to guide it.
“You see,” she continued, her red nails flashing slightly as she gestured, “I feel I have one foot in the dramatic field. If I could put the other foot in — if I could get well established as a dramatic actress — then I could go back’ once in a while and do the lighter things.”
“Does that mean you’re tired of being a glamor girl?”
“The glamor girl parts are fine to get started, but they’re just shallow if you have any serious ambitions as a dramatic actress,” Miss Turner replied.
And so, because she wants to be thought of as a dramatic actress, the 25-year-old Lana would like to have people forget she was ever a Sweater Girl or rather THE Sweater Girl. History records that she was wearing a red sweater painted with school emblems the fateful day she was discovered. Since then she has taken a lot of punishment because she happens to be magnificently endowed. Miss Turner’s first name used to be Julia. She herself thought of the name Lana — made it up right out of her head. She was vastly embarrassed when she discovered later that Lana in Spanish means wool, because it fitted right in with all those sweater gags, about pulling the wool over your eyes...
“You’re serious about being tired of being called The Sweater Girl?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s been dropped. I would like to be rid of it,” she said. “You don’t wear sweaters any more?” “Sure I wear them. We all do. But I don’t wear them in pictures and I don’t wear them in stills — I wear them for warmth.”
And so, personally, I will never again call her a Sweater Girl or refer to her sweaters in any way because I think she’s suffered enough. Miss Turner, nevertheless; will remain for many years in the public eye because she has color, and dash, and is the newspaper reader’s idea of love and romance. Pretty soon you’ll be reading about her racing stable.
“Stable!” she said. “I have only one little horse.”
The 3-year-old filly, named Cheryba — the first five letters coming from her daughter’s name, the ba standing for Buenos Aires — is chestnut colored with a white question mark on her face. Stories had pursued Miss Turner to the effect that swooning South American millionaires had given her horses. I asked her who had given her Cheryba.
“Nobody gave her to me. I bought her,” Miss Turner said. “I’m not on any receiving line.”
She went on to say, though, that she might eventually have other horses if she can afford them. She enjoys horse racing and goes to Santa Anita in California, or to Belmont or Jamaica in New York.
“Our horse,” she said, “will be ready for Saratoga this summer.”
At about this point in the interview Miss Turner graciously asked, as hostess, whether her guests wanted a drink. We didn’t. She didn’t. We carried on.
“What’s your favorite cocktail?” I asked. “I guess a martini — very cold,” she said. “Is it true that you can’t cook a lick?” “I don’t even know how,” she said. “I’d probably starve to death if left alone.” “You must have a huge wardrobe.” “Too large,” she agreed. “I’m a transient now, you know. Sold my house in Bel Air — the whole works, furniture and everything. So I had to give away a number of my things, including clothes. I gave them to the different reliefs, to the clothing drive, to orphanages, and to some friends.” “How about furs?”
“Well, I have minks, ermines, sables —”
“I don’t like chinchilla.”
“I notice you use the plural of minks, etc. Do you have more than one of everything?”
“Well,” she answered. “I have light mink and dark mink. I’m trying to make up my mind now whether I should have a platinum mink. But I think I can use the $27,000 for something better than that.”
Miss Turner’s excellent sense of humor came out in the next question.
“Do you wear much jewelry?” I asked. “Not at the same time,” she said.
easy to red...
The reader will see that she was affable and easy to interview. She ducked no questions. For instance, she was quite willing to talk about her white gold hair.
“It isn’t the same platinum blond color that Jean Harlow had, so we call it white gold,” she said. “We changed it from red to dark blond, then to light blond, then to gold blond, then to white gold. Then after a couple of pictures establishing it as a color, I’ll go back to my natural color.”
“You mean you like red better?”
“I mean it’s a lot easier,” she said.
In her picture, “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” Miss Turner wore a complete white wardrobe. It opened with her in white shorts and closed with her in a white bathing suit. The picture, “Weekend at the Waldorf,” was so realistic that frequently people wander into the hotel to ask where it was that Lana Turner used to work. Of course, that was just part of the script, and she has only been around the Waldorf as a dweller at the Waldorf Towers, one of the swankiest addresses in America. She herself didn’t know when I talked to her what her next movie might be. She’s become selective about scripts, and had turned down three.
I asked her how many pictures she had made.
She had no idea, although she was willing to count them. I urged her not to bother. I just wanted to see if she had the sort of adding machine mind that some people have about such things. I was glad she didn’t. It made her more human, to me.
But of her early pictures she remembers one especially, Marco Polo.
When it came out, it was advertised as starring “Gary Cooper, Alan Hale, Sigrid Gurie, and a cast of 5,000.”
“I just had this one tiny little bit,” she said, holding up two fingers to show how microscopic the part was. “I was one of the cast of 5,000.”
So time whipped along, and she got famous, and the picture was re-released “starring Gary Cooper and Lana Turner.”
As one who had observed Miss Turner considerably around New York, I can say she likes to dance, and presents a nice figure on the dance floor — hell, she presents a nice figure anyplace.
Lana is also called “the wheee girl” by friends.
She is able to emit in a low, throaty voice a “wheee” sound that convulses people. She did this one night in the Stork Club and practically had Dorothy Lamour in hysterics. On the other hand, she’s interested in symphonies, and goes often to musical events at the Hollywood Bowl. She has spells of reading, when she digests two or three books in a day. Then she may quit reading for a month.
After a while, I thought I had better ask about her current romances. A reporter always saves the dynamite questions till last. If he gets thrown out, he’s already got the bulk of the interview done.
I asked whether there was any possibility of her marrying Charles Jaeger, the radio man, as had been widely reported.
“People are so ready to misunderstand a friendship,” she said. “But are you?” I asked. “The papers shouldn’t try to beat me to the gun,” she said. “When I make my plans, they will know in advance. They should know me by now. We have no definite plans. He sees other people. I see other people.”
With a light laugh and a bounce on the divan, she said, “I’m completely free!” “It’s not over with him?” “No, I still see him. I see a lot of other people, too!” she added.
That was as much as I could extract from her on that subject, and if she’s married to somebody else by the time you read this, don’t blame me. Along about this time, Miss Turner said she’d like to show me her daughter. Little Cheryl Christina came running bashfully out and hopped up on her mother’s knees.
“Say hello to Mr. Wilson,” Miss Turner said.
Cherry was very cautious of what she said to me for publication. She is a sweet child with hair that started out to be blond but has now got a little darker. My little boy, Slugger, is a few months older than Cherry, and Miss Turner and I discussed our respective children while Cherry continued sitting there.
It was sort of strange. I imagine, for a great glamor girl to be talking about her child to a Broadway reporter, who in turn talked about his child, but that was the way this interview ended. Lana Turner walked to the door with me and shook hands again.
Her parting ‘words were:
“Say hello to Slugger for me.”
Collection: Modern Screen Magazine, July 1946