Lana Turner Talks About Turhan
The incurably romantic Lana Turner, who at twenty-four has had two marriages and many romances, has undergone a great change.
Not that the little Turner girl isn’t still romantic, emotional, in love with life and, oh, so in love with the Turkish actor, Turhan Bey, but there’s a new responsibility in her life now that is casting a becoming new shadow of maturity and womanliness across her personality.
It’s the adoration she has for her m little daughter Cheryl.
It is true she still goes to night clubs, a vivid blonde flame for the photographer’s flash bulbs. But unlike the gay days when she was with first this man and then that one, she is now always in the company of the darkly handsome, strangely oriental-looking Turhan Bey.
You don’t have to be on the Hollywood “inside” to realize that these two are really in love. But where Lana used to talk freely about her romances—this one with Turhan has been different. When interviewers have tried to get her to talk about him, she has always changed the subject or flatly said it was something she didn’t care to discuss. And that ended it.
But one day last week she stopped in to see me on her way home from work. Perhaps it was the thoughtful, relaxed mood women feel in those hours when day is closing, the fire is lighted and the little annoyances of the working hours are over, that brought on the mood. At any rate, we fell to talking naturally and easily about this new love in her life.
I thought she looked a little tired, resting her blonde head against the back of a chair, but still very beautiful with her dark eyes seeming bigger than ever against the natural whiteness of her skin. Now and then she twisted a huge emerald ring, surrounded by diamonds, on her engagement finger.
“A present from Turhan?” I asked.
“No,” she answered. “It really isn’t. I bought it myself but so many people ask about it that Turhan and I decided we wouldn’t answer their questions. So everyone thinks he gave it to me.”
I had missed her at all the New Year’s parties and asked where she had been.
“Turhan was ill with a very bad cold,” she replied. “I stayed right by his bedside. I wouldn’t have enjoyed going anywhere without him. You know,” she said simply, “this is the real thing. I haven’t gone out with another man for six months.”
“How did you and Turhan first meet?” I wanted to know.
Their first meeting was at a party at Maria Montez’s house. Lana went with Steve Crane to whom she was then married. She said, “It was just a casual meeting. I thought he was very nice but he meant absolutely nothing to me then and I did not see him again for months and months and then I met him again.”
“Where?” I asked.
Lana laughed, “Again it was at a party at Maria Montez’s, seven months ago. I had separated from Steve in the meantime and Turhan asked me if he might call. We had many telephone conversations before he finally asked me to go to Olvera Street with him for dinner. We both love Mexican food and I had never had such a good time in my life. We laughed and laughed and had such a wonderful evening and after that, well you know the rest. I saw him practically every night. And our laughs and good times have continued.”
I said, “Then you’ll marry him the minute your divorce becomes final next August?”
“Oh, that’s another matter,” she answered. “Turhan is so young— he’s never been married. I’ve had two marriages and somehow I feel so much older.”
Lana reaches the ripe old age of twenty-four in 1945—but she believes she’s lived a lifetime.
She said, a little bitterly, I thought: “I’ve had so much publicity that I wish now I hadn’t had. Other girls do things—but they don’t have it all written up. I was only sixteen when I met my first beau, Greg Bautzer, and for three years I went out just with him.
“Then came my marriage to Artie Shaw. That shouldn’t have been. I was a silly, romantic child—in love with love. And my marriage to Steve Crane wasn’t the experience of a mature woman, either. Again I was a foolish girl—governed by my emotions.
“You wouldn’t believe I worry about those past mistakes, would you? But I do. I worry because of my little girl. Nothing in the world has ever meant so much to me. I have the responsibility of bringing her up, her education and, of course, I take care of my mother. Sometimes I get frightened, fearful that something might happen to me and I wouldn’t be able to give the baby the things I want her to have. I don’t want any more emotional mistakes in my life—nothing to divert me from my baby. I think I love Turhan more because he loves Cheryl and finds her so enchanting.”
“But if you love him,” I asked, “why do you say you won’t marry?”
I think only Lana would have been frank enough to say, “He’s never asked me. You know, he’s been brought up differently from American boys. He still considers that I’m married and will be until I get my final decree. Neither one of us goes out with any one else. We love each other, but as for any matrimonial plans—we haven’t any. Sometimes I think I’ll never marry again.”
I remembered an interview I’d had with Turhan in which he told me that his mother and father had separated years before—so I was quite sure it wasn’t Turhan’s mother who would object to her son’s marriage to a divorced woman. In fact, Lana speaks very sweetly about Mrs. Bey who is an Austrian. It was Turhan’s father who was Turkish.
Lana even told me that the very exotic perfume she was wearing was a gift from Mrs. Bey. “She’s a delightful woman,” she said, “and a wonderful mother to Turhan.”
I asked if it were true that young Bey has a fortune in Turkey and that his father is a very prominent man. “I don’t think I should discuss his affairs,” she said. “He has a title, it’s true.”
“Bet you can’t pronounce his real name,” I kidded.
“Oh, yes I can!” Lana laughed. “It’s Turhan Selahettin-Schultavy Bey. Bey is the title.”
I couldn’t help commenting on how much more mature she seemed.
“That’s what I’m trying to convince the studio,” she replied. “They gave me some roles I didn’t like at all and when I begged for something more substantial they said, ‘Oh, wait until you are older—you’ve got a long way to go.’ But I don’t feel I have so many years of a career ahead of me. I think twenty-four is old when you think of how many young girls still in their teens are coming into the limelight.”
Obviously, Lana is at the stage where she feels she’s had a rather bad break from many sources. She’s been so photographed, so written up and her affairs have been dragged out into the cold spotlight. I wish I could tell her that so many of the things that worry her now are just because she is so young. But philosophy and a bit of humor about life come with experience. It has to be learned—not talked.
Somehow I’ve always had a warm spot in my heart for the little Turner girl back from the days when she was first discovered by Mervyn LeRoy. Her real name, “Julia,” was changed to Lana and “Lana” became the name of hundreds of babies. What she did, the sweaters she wore, the things she said, her mode of dressing her hair, became fads. No wonder the little schoolgirl’s head whirled—and she made foolish mistakes.
Now she wants more than anything else to settle down, to be a dignified mother and have her romances kept out of the newspapers—for Cheryl’s sake. And there’s no doubt but that Turhan has also been influential in making Lana more serious-minded. “My romance with him has been the most beautiful thing in my life,” she said.
“I can’t say that I’ve never been wildly in love before,” she went on. “That wouldn’t be true. But this is a different feeling. Perhaps it’s because he seems so young to me. I call him ‘my child boy friend’—but he has a lot of good common sense for a boy of his age, and his upbringing has given him dignity.”
I asked, “How old is he?”
Lana smiled, “I kid him and say he’s nineteen. But he’s really twenty-four.”
“Then why do you feel that you are so much older?”
“A woman is always older than a man —even if they are the same age. I feel I’ve lived a long time—through so many experiences Turhan has never known.”
I thought if Lana knew my age she’d think I ought to lie down and die or do something equally drastic. But I tactfully kept off that subject.
After she had gone I couldn’t help wondering what is next in the cards for Lana. She is not a girl who will find life peaceful and calm no matter how much she may desire it. She is too vivid and emotional. Will she marry Turhan? Perhaps. Or there may be many other men in her life.
Somehow I feel, too, that this sober, mature attitude may be just another phase of her development. But of this I am sure—she does feel the responsibility of her baby and it will influence anything she does in the future.
Her sweater-girl, night-clubbing days are behind her—but as for new romances, new loves in her life, new emotional experiences—well, we’ll wait and see.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE APRIL 1945