Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Is it Just Us...

...or for a while, somewhere between The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) and Peyton Place (1957), did Lana Turner suddenly forget how to pose? She looks so utterly uncomfortable and self-conscious in so many stills from the mid-1950's.


  1. Is it just me or did she always look middle-aged? And so, well, average? I have always thought she was just a product of the times, and these photos reaffirm that. With so many great beauties in that era, i.e. Taylor, Gardner, Kelly, Hepburn, Turner always looks plain and dowdy in comparisson.

  2. I think Lana was absolutely gorgeous in the 1940's. The early-to-mid 1950's were a rough patch for her -- I think her lifestyle, and just aging in general, affected her looks. She also "thickened" a bit early, which made her look slightly matronly (see the bathing suit photo).

    Having said that, she did a complete overhaul in the wake of the Stompanato scandal, slimming down and getting her act more or less together, and her hard-as-glass, coiffed, lacquered, and Jean Louis-ed look of the late 1950's to mid 1960's is my favorite. She looked totally artificial, but absolutely fab.

  3. TJ: you're right on. maybe lana knew her glamour girl days were long gone and suddenly freaked, losing her nerve. all the shellac and lacquer probably made her feel safe, like a good, tight girdle.

    (from john engstead's "star shots")

    "For every portrait sitting, Lana arrives carefully made-up and with her hair curled, set and lacquered in place- not a stray hair anywhere. It is pretty but there is no freedom to the look. At every sitting I say, "Let's comb your hair out and get a casual look." My persuasion worked only once: during the sitting for her television show series, "The Survivors" "Let's make some pictures to look as if you just got out of bed," I said. She understood that and disappeared into the dressing room for half an hour. But half an hour is a long time to comb out a stiff set. And I anticipated exactly what came out of the dressing room- an arranged disarranged look. "No Lana, " I said. "I really want a natural easy look. Just take out any pins you have in there and lean over and shake your head and come up." She did, and that's the shot reproduced in this book.