America’s Favorite Teen Star Bucked Hollywood Chaperones
Fifteen-year-old Julia Jean Turner skipped school one day in 1936 to buy a Coke at LA’s Sunset Boulevard, and her beauty attracted the attention of a Hollywood reporter. When he asked if she would like to become an actress, Turner replied: “I’ll have to ask my mother first“. Her mother, ill and broke, jumped at the chance, and signed Turner to a contract with Warner Brothers. Within a few months the novice actress, now screen-named Lana Turner, was a hit. Aware that they had struck gold, the studio worked hard to protect Turner’s public image, and packaged and presented her as a wholesome American good girl.
To safeguard her reputation, the studio even hired chaperons to accompany her wherever she went. Unsurprisingly, the restrictions eventually chafed, and the young starlet began to push back. The result was scandal, as Turner came to resent the bubble in which she was confined by MGM Studios, which took over her contract from Warner Bros. in 1938. As an escape, America’s favorite good girl began to party hard, and developed a taste for bad boys. The degree of badness grew over the years, as Turner gradually worked her way from Hollywood tough guy poseurs to outright Mafiosi.