As both a collector and AVID reader of biographies and autobiographies (old Hollywood and history), I often group these books into three categories when adding to my collections:
- The stand-alone, ultimate biography or autobiography – as in the only one you really need for a certain star or historical figure.
- A component biography or autobiography – one that is a wonderful (even necessary) addition to a collection of memoirs of the individual.
- The one I have to have no matter what – one that it simply doesn’t matter which of the above slots it fits into because I collect everything ever written about the individual!
A few examples of number 1:
These books give you such a perfect all-around account of the star that (unless you collect everything written about them, you may not find it necessary to add another book about them to your collection).
A few examples of number 2:
These books are so wonderful that they should be added to any collection you have on the star(s). However, either because of their laser focus on one particular topic or because they cover more than one star (Feuding Fan Dancers, for example), they wouldn’t be considered the ultimate biography. There’s also the… shall we say chance… that the author’s recollections are clouded by emotion(s) – such as Georgia Hale’s biography of Charlie Chaplin, a man she spent nearly a lifetime loving.
My Examples of number 3:
I collect anything and everything pertaining in any way, shape, or form for the following, so I grab every book associated with them!
Lucille Ball, Maureen O’Hara, Barbara Stanwyck, Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, June Allyson, Audrey Hepburn, Georgia Hale, Buster Keaton, Bob Hope, Elvis, Abbott & Costello, John Wayne, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis (I get a special kick out of always listing these two together.. strange sense of humor, I guess)…
Back to Lana….
I lay all of this out merely to set the stage for Lana: The Life and Loves of Lana Turner – because it is a “component” type biography that also happens to (for me, anyway) fall into the third category as well – I collect all Lana Turner books!
As you can tell by the title, “The Life and Loves of Lana Turner,” this book has Lana’s (eventful!) love life in mind. In fact, the wonderful author (Jane Ellen Wayne) focuses the bulk of time on the men in the beautiful Lana Turner’s life… to be more precise, the effect(s) they had on the actress.
Make no mistake about it, each man left fingerprints all over her life – for better or worse. A certain amount of naivety existed with Lana, because she seemed to sincerely believe that each one was her Prince Charming.
Not only does the author provide a great deal of insight into what Lana Turner was thinking (even when she seemed to not be thinking at all!), she presents her as she truly was – a human being, just as capable of mistakes as any of us.
Things I Love Most About This Biography
- When I think about things that make this biography stand out, the one that comes to mind first is the respect with which author Jane Ellen Wayne treats Lana. Instead of, “She did this wicked thing… she made this irrational decision…,” her response seemed to be more, “I wish I’d been there to help her avoid that guy!” I feel the same way when it comes to Lana and many of my other favorites – I wish I could have been there to tell them, “No… absolutely not!” Heck, with Lana, I’d have been tempted to lock her in a room once or twice! Her heart led down some very destructive roads and left her a beautiful and easy prey for more than one low life.
- I am in love with the way the author presents Lana’s beautiful daughter, Cheryl and her relationship with her mother.
- While there are a few men you meet along the way who you’d love to throw rotten garbage at, there are a few who you’ll find especially intriguing and want to learn more about (Tyrone Power, for example).
- The pictures – just wow! There are gorgeous pictures of Lana throughout her career as well as candids with the men in her life and her beautiful family.
- As you’d expect from someone who reads as much as I do, I appreciate a “fast read.” Books that are easily digested and don’t take a lot of time to read have a special place in my heart and Lana: The Life and Loves of Lana Turner is a very fast read – yet it’s one that stays with you.
- The “staying with you” aspect is something else I love about this book. Since I first read it, I often think back to moments in Lana’s life when I see pictures or films. When I see her during a particular time, smiling for her fans and looking radiant, I’ll instantly think back to this book and remember what she was going through at the time. It’s very memorable and will stay with you long after the last page.
One could say that Lana was weak in some ways – weak to “allow” herself to become more than one man’s (and more than one situation’s) victim. She often, when faced with two decisions, made the absolute worst one as though it were her job to torment herself. As a Lana Turner fan (and one that has studied her more than I ever studied any subject in school), I would hasten to say this: Yes, she displayed moments of great weakness BUT the fact that she survived the madness and is, today, one of the greatest, most-recognized icons of Old Hollywood took greater strength.
If you are (or even if you are not YET), a fan of Lana Turner’s, I hope you’ll read Lana: The Life and Loves of Lana Turner. I have a feeling it will help you understand her better. Trust me, she’s very much someone worth getting to know.