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Marshfield true-crime author investigates one of Hollywood's most infamous murder cases
Marshfield true-crime author investigates one of Hollywood's most infamous murder cases
Marshfield true-crime author investigates one of Hollywood's most infamous murder cases

Published on: 03/02/2024

Description

Scene: Interior, bedroom, Beverly Hills mansion. April 4, 1958.

The players: Lana Turner, screen goddess fast approaching 40. An Academy Award-nominated actress ("Peyton Place.") with bad taste in men. .Johnny Stompanato, onetime mobster bodyguard and con man with a violent streak wider than an L.A. freeway. Cheryl Crane, Turner's 14-year-old daughter.

The action: There is an argument, then a struggle. A kitchen knife flashes. Stompanato lays on the floor, mortally wounded.

Whodunit?

The lives of Turner and Stompanato leading up to that fatal confrontation are the subject of the latest book by Marshfield true-crime author Casey Sherman "A Murder in Hollywood: The Untold Story of Tinseltown's Most Shocking Crime." Published by Sourcebooks, it is now available in bookstores and online retailers.

The Patriot Ledger talked with Sherman in a telephone interview.

Ledger: What attracted you to this story?

Sherman: I'm a sucker for old Hollywood stories and L.A. noir stories. I'm a big Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and "LA Confidential" fan. I thought this would be a good addition to LA crime literature.

Ledger: You spend a lot of time in the book tracing the growth of Lana Turner's career but also the growth of organized crime in LA, Bugsy Siegel and Johnny's mentor, Mickey Cohen. How much did these two worlds overlap.

Sherman: I think they overlap a great deal. The economies of Hollywood and organized crime supported each other and and were often dependent on one another.

Ledger: Stompanato appeared at a particularly vulnerable point in Lana Turner's life – dropped by her studio, MGM, and her fifth marriage (there would be eight all together, two to the same man) a major failure.

Sherman: I think it was cause and effect. Lana Turner was at a crossroads in her career and Mickey Cohen wanted to separate from the violence of organized crime. Cohen used Stompanato as bait to reverse-engineer a honey trap. Lana Turner was always attracted to dark and dangerous figures, so she was an easy target for them.

Ledger: You've written about killers before. How is it writing a victim (Stompanato) so unsympathetic.

Sherman: It felt different in a way. I felt empathy for her, for all the men in her life who had taken advantage of her financially, physically and emotionally.

Ledger: How different do you think this incident would be seen now rather than in 1958.

Sherman: This was the biggest scandal of the 1950s. Now, you would have journalists and bloggers who would disprove the official story that Cheryl Crane did it. I don't buy the story at all. What struck me was how clean the crime scene photos were, He was stabbed in the abdomen with an eight-inch knife.

Ledger: You wrote that you consider Lana Turner a feminist icon. Why?

Sherman: I think Johnny Stompanato had beaten and abused her physically and financially, and Lana could take that. But when he threatened her mother and daughter, Lana had to do whatever she could to take her life back. And that's why I think she killed. I give her a lot of credit for taking on the studio system and forming her own production company.

Ledger: What impressed you most about Lana Turner?

Sherman: I would say she was a survivor. Somehow, no matter what, she picked herself off the floor and moved forward.

Ledger: What's your favorite Lana Turner movie?

Sherman: "The Postman Always Rings Twice." It is her most popular movie and her best acting performance. I hope this book helps audiences revisit her career.

Ledger: What's next for Casey Sherman?

Sherman: I've just finished my 18th book, "Deadly Depths." It is about the Nathan Carman case. In 2016, he went out on a boat with his mother on a fishing trip. He was rescued, she did not make it home. It will be out around this time next year.

Sherman will be signing copies of "A Murder in Hollywood" at 1 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble in the Derby Street Shops in Hingham.

Reach Fred Hanson at [email protected].

Thanks to our subscribers, who help make this coverage possible. If you are not a subscriber, please consider supporting quality local journalism with a Patriot Ledger subscription. Here is our latest offer.

News Source : https://www.patriotledger.com/story/news/2024/03/01/marshfield-ma-casey-sherman-interview-book-murder-in-hollywood/72692232007/

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