I refuse to leave this earth with that pile of movie-magazine trash, scandal and slander, as my epitaph."" So glamour-queen...


LANA: The Lady, the Legend, the Truth

I refuse to leave this earth with that pile of movie-magazine trash, scandal and slander, as my epitaph."" So glamour-queen Lana now tells her own story. And--thanks to seven husbands, Tyrone Power (""the one who broke my heart""), and the notorious Johnny Stompanato episode--it's a story that lots of movie-lovers will romp through. . . even if oddly likable lama is no Shelley Winters in the humor department, no Lauren Bacall when it comes to class. To start with, then, Lana (nÉe Judy) wasn't discovered at Schwabs, wasn't drinking a malted: it was the Top Hat CafÉ and a coke. But discovered she was, at 15, by the publisher of the Hollywood Reporter; and, despite her total lack of acting experience, she did a noticeable cameo (""Yes, I did wear a bra, and no, it wasn't padded"") in They Won't Forget, with bigger roles to come. Still, except for a solid re-creation of that famed car scene in Bad and the Beautiful, the career takes a definite back-seat here--as Lana succinctly recounts her troubles with love and marriage. Lover #1 two-timed on her with nasty Joan Crawford. On the rebound she wed crazy Artie Shaw, quickly sued for divorce, and reluctantly had an abortion. She rebuffed Howard Hughes (""in all honesty, I found him boring""), wed hubby #2, had daughter Cheryl (the only pregnancy that survived an Rh-factor problem), and then, after divorce #2 came. . . Tyrone Power, almost divorced from Annabelle. ""We made a breathtaking couple""--but Lana again had to abort (for the sake of both careers); even worse, Ty dropped her for Linda Christian. So, after yet another collapsing marriage (and miscarriages), there was a suicide attempt. Onward, however, to: Fernando Lamas (lover), Lex Barker (husband), both husbands of Arlene Dahl--""which made for difficult seating at parties."" But all this misery--""When and how would I ever fred the normal marriage I wanted?""--was nothing compared to what happened when a suave gangster named John Steele (nÉ Stompanato) began courting: in Lana's convincing version his passion turned out to be psychotic, possessive, abusive; she was too frightened to really dump him; and teenage daughter Cheryl stabbed him one night, mistakenly thinking that he was about to stab Lana. The rest, then, is fairly anticlimactic: some more husbands, enjoyable sex for the lust time at 43, comebacks in film and theater, finding God. But Lana tells it all unpretentiously, unweepily; and the result--with nice little attacks along the way on Richard Burton, Ezio Pinza, Otto Preminger, Harold Robbing et al.--is a good old-fashioned celeb memoir, popcorn with spice, unashamedly Hollywood.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1982


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1982

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