peyton place

MGM Stories Part Twelve: Lana Turner by Karina Longworth

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Lana Turner, the legendary "Sweater Girl" was one of MGM’s prized contract players, the epitome of the mid-century sex goddess on-screen and an unlucky-in-love single mom off-screen who would burn through seven husbands and countless affairs. After nearly twenty years as a star not known for her acting prowess, Turner's career suddenly got interesting in the late 1950s, when the hits The Bad and the Beautiful, Peyton Place and Imitation of Life sparked a reappraisal of her talents. In the middle of this renaissance, Turner became embroiled in one of Hollywood history’s most shocking scandals: the murder of Turner’s boyfriend Johnny Stompanato at the hand of her 14 year-old daughter, Cheryl Crane.

Sources: 

The Star Machine by Jeanine Basinger

Lana: The Lady, The Legend, The Truth by Lana Turner

Detour: A Hollywood Story by Cheryl Crane with Cliff Jahr

Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer by Scott Eyman

The Bad and the Beautiful: Hollywood in the Fifties by Sam Kashner and Jennifer Macnair

YMRT #23: Mia Farrow in the 1960s, part 1: Mia & Frank by Karina Longworth

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Before MiaFarrow was an outspoken activist, devoted mother to 14 children, and the famously jilted partner of Woody Allen, she was … a lotof other things. Today in the first of a two parter, we’ll begin to explore MiaFarrow’s life and career from 1960-1970 — a time period during which she lived in both a Catholic convent and an Indian ashram; married and divorced Frank Sinatra and became pregnant by Andre Previn, who was still married at the time to the songwriter Dory Previn. Farrow also starred in Peyton Place, the first prime time soap sensation;Rosemary’s Baby, one of the key films of the “new Hollywood” of the 1960s-1970s; and a couple of nearly forgotten but really interesting smaller films which are just as much of their era. Today we’ll cover Mia’s life up to early 1968, tracing her emergence as a star and her relationship with Sinatra. Also: Salvador Dali, Ava Gardner, Roman Polanski, Dean Martin and more.

Show notes!

This episode was inspired by two things which came to my attention over the past year. The first was Maureen Orth’s October 2013 Vanity Fair profile of Mia, which began the recent wave of attention to the paternity of Ronan Farrow and the long-dormant allegations that Woody Allen molested his and Mia’s adopted daughter, Dylan. The second was a film called John and Mary, which I had never heard of, but needed to research in a hurry when we found contact sheets from the set of the film, contact sheets that were too beautiful to not include in my book, Hollywood Frame by Frame. That movie stars Farrow and Dustin Hoffman right at the moment when the two were the hottest, newest young stars around — to put it in completely reductive, contemporary terms, this would be like if Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart made an arty, one-night-stand movie at the peak of Twilight — but it’s basically been forgotten, and I couldn’t find much information about its production. In attempting to research it, I came across MiaFarrow’s autobiography, What Falls Away, published in 1997, which wasn’t much help on John and Mary, but which was full of other stories that I wanted to explore. 

The primary sources for this episode in addition to What Falls Away were Roman Polanski’s autobiography Roman; Robert Evans’ autobiography The Kid Stays in the Picture(and the audiobook version, which I excerpt in the episode); and Sinatra: The Life by Anthony Summers and Robyn Swan, published in 2005. There are many Sinatra biographies; I picked up this one this time because I had never looked at it before, and it had a substantial amount about Mia. I also read this 2006 interview with Mia by Gaby Wood in The Guardian.

Discography:

"Moonlight Saving Me" performed by Blossom Dearie

"Flying" by The Beatles

"Come Rain or Come Shine" performed by Frank Sinatra

"I’ll Be Your Mirror" by The Velvet Underground and Nico

"The Beat Goes On" by Buddy Rich

"Au coin de la rue" by Marco Raaphorst

"Out of the Skies, Under the Earth" by Chris Zabriskie

"Something" by The Beatles, performed by Frank Sinatra

"With Plenty of Money and You" performed by Tony Bennett

"Tikopia" by Kevin MacLeod

"Melody" by Serge Gainsbourg

"Melancholy Aftersounds" by Kai Engel

"Private Hurricane (Instrumental version)" by Josh Woodward

"Divider" by Chris Zabriskie

"Main Title Theme to Rosemary’s Baby" by MiaFarrow and Dick Hazzard

"Laserdisc" by Chris Zabriskie

"I Am a Man Who Will Fight For Your Honor" by  Chris Zabriskie

"Tinkerwench" by Loveliescrushing

"Undercover Vampire Policeman" by  Chris Zabriskie

"Runaway" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs