Closer Weekly



- — Bruce Fretts, with reporting by Katie Bruno

New details of the Hollywood legend’s drama with her many female frenemies.

“In Hollywood you should always forgive your enemies because you never know when you’ll have to work with them.” — Lana

After Ava Gardner moved to London in the late ’60s, her Hollywood gal pal Lana Turner used to visit her and swap stories about the men they’d both loved and left behind, like Frank Sinatra and jazzman Artie Shaw. “Our fun was getting together and tearing down the lovers of yesterday,” she told biographer Darwin Porter. “We had a big laugh about all their deficienci­es!”

Ava wasn’t the only of Lana’s peers who ultimately bonded with her over mutual exes. When Lana first met Judy Garland in the late ’30s, “Artie Shaw was romancing Judy, who fell madly in love with him and then just assumed they were heading to the altar,” says Porter, co-author of the newly released Lana Turner: Hearts & Diamonds Take All. “Then Judy’s mother picked up the paper and saw Artie was marrying Lana!”

After Lana divorced Artie in 1940, she and Judy were cast together in the musical Ziegfeld Girl. “They looked back on it and forgave each other and became friends,” says Porter. “They probably said, ‘What the hell did we need with Artie Shaw anyway?’ ”


Burying the hatchet wasn’t so easy with another rival: Joan Crawford. In the ’40s, Joan ordered Lana never to go out with Greg Bautzer,” Porter says of the Hollywood attorney who dated Joan for four years and was briefly engaged to Lana. “Joan got even by dating Joseph Stephen Crane,” Lana’s second and third ex-husband (their initial marriage was annulled after it was discovered the restaurate­ur-actor wasn’t yet divorced from first wife Carol Ann Kurtz).

The dueling divas also clashed over workrelate­d issues. “Joan was offered certain roles that didn’t work out and ended up going to Lana,” says Porter. “So they also had a profession­al jealousy.”

It only grew worse over time. “As Lana got older, she began to resent the acclaim that was forming around Joan and Bette Davis,” says Porter. “She said, ‘I’m terribly afraid I’m going to become one of the popcorn blondes,’” referring to lightweigh­t starlets like Betty Grable and Veronica Lake. “She saw many of her contempora­ries, like Irene Dunne and Loretta Young, being put in an icon position,” he adds. “That caused her great regret.”

Still, when Lana died of esophageal cancer at 74 in 1995, she left a powerful legacy. “When she came on the screen, it was just magic,” gushes Porter. “She was the last great blond goddess of World War II — she was what the soldiers were fighting for. She was a fantasy, and we adored her.”

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