Lana Turner was known as a Hollywood femme fatale on screen, and that role extended into her real life as well. In 1958, Turner’s boyfriend, mobster Johnny Stompanato, was found stabbed to death in her home. Stompanato was a reputed associate of mobster Micky Cohen.
He had been stabbed in the abdomen with a butcher knife, and during the ensuing investigation, Turner’s 14-year-old daughter confessed that she was the one who delivered the fatal blows. Cheryl Crane said that she stabbed him to protect her mother, who she felt was in danger from Stompanato.
At the inquest, Turner took the stand and described Stompanato as hyper-possesive and prone to fits of rage. She said that she had told her daughter of her plans to end the relationship that night, saying, “I’m going to end it with him tonight, Baby. It’s going to be a rough night. Are you prepared for it?” Turner said that Stompanato flew into a rage when she told him it was over. She said, “He grabbed me by the arms and started shaking me and cursing me very badly, and saying … that if he said jump, I would jump; if he said hop, I would hop, and I would have to do anything and everything he told me or he’d cut my face or cripple me. And if … when it went beyond that, he would kill me and my daughter and my mother.”
“I was walking toward the bedroom door and he was right behind me, and I opened it and my daughter came in. I swear it was so fast, I … I truthfully thought she had hit him in the stomach. The best I can remember, they came together and they parted. I still never saw a blade.”
The jury returned a verdict of justifiable homicide, but rumors swirled that Turner had been the one to wield the blade and simply had her daughter take the blame. Although many continue to believe that, her daughter seemed to settle the question in her 1988 autobiography where she again admitted stabbing Stompanato, who she said was sexually abusing her.