If you follow this blog you probably are familiar with the story. Lana Turner “hooks up” with Johnny Stompanato, a mob thug under the employ of Mickey Cohen. He roughs her up, they split up, they get back together. One night at Lana’s home they argue in Lana’s bedroom. Her daughter Cheryl hears the commotion and bangs on her mother’s door, a kitchen knife in hand…
Johnny Stompanato is stabbed fatally in the abdomen. Lana summons her mother, who summons a doctor. The doctor suggests they call attorney to the stars, Jerry Geisler. Geisler rushes to the rented home on Bedford in Beverly Hills and notifies the police. The police arrive on the scene some thirty minutes after the stabbing.
Lana Turner’s daughter was charged and tried for murder. The jury found her not guilty by self-defense (or defense of her mother). Here’s the deal, there were no fingerprints on the knife, there was no blood on Lana or the bedroom carpet, the crime scene had obviously been altered. Jerry Geisler never lost a case, he knew how to read a jury and how to sway a judge. Perhaps, just perhaps, a minor jumping to the defense of her mother was a more palatable case to present to the court than an aging star going after her mobster bed partner with a knife, perhaps.
Cheryl didn’t testify – something about traumatizing a child – but Lana did and when she finished she fainted in the courtroom… The performance of a lifetime?