Turner was well known inside Hollywood circles for dating often, changing partners often, and for never shying away from the topic of how many lovers she had in her lifetime. However, she claimed that sex was not important to her and that she was more of a romantic, stating: “All those years that my image on the screen was “sex goddess”-well that makes me laugh. Sex was never important to me. I’m sorry if that disappoints you, but it’s true. Romance, yes. Romance was very important. But I never liked being rushed into bed, and I never allowed it. I’d put it off as long as I could and I gave in only when I was in love, or thought I was. It was always the courtship, the cuddling, and the closeness that I cared about, never the act of sex itself-with some exceptions of course. I’m not masquerading as a prude, but I’ve always been portrayed as a sexy woman, and that’s wrong. Sensuous, yes. When I’m involved with someone I care for deeply, I can feel sensual. But that’s a private matter.”
Turner met Johnny Stompanato during the spring of 1957, shortly after ending her marriage to Barker. At first, Turner fell for Stompanato’s good looks and prowess as a lover, but after she discovered his ties to the Los Angeles underworld (in particular, his association with gangster Mickey Cohen), she tried to break off the affair out of fear of bad publicity. Stompanato was not easily deterred, however, and over the course of the following year, they carried on a relationship filled with violent arguments, physical abuse, and repeated reconciliations.
In the fall of 1957, Stompanato visited Turner in England, where she was filming Another Time, Another Place (1958), co-starring Sean Connery. In her autobiography, Turner said she arranged for Stompanato’s visit because she was lonely and having a difficult time filming. Their reunion was initially happy, but the two soon began fighting. Stompanato became suspicious when Turner would not allow him to visit the set and, during one fight, he choked her, causing her to miss three weeks of filming. Turner later wrote that she and her makeup man, Del Armstrong, called Scotland Yard to have Stompanato deported. Stompanato got wind of the plan and showed up on the set with a gun, threatening her and her co-star Connery, whom he warned to keep away from Turner. Connery answered by grabbing the gun out of Stompanato’s hand and twisting his wrist, causing him to run off set sheepishly. Turner and Armstrong later returned with two Scotland Yard detectives to the rented house where she and Stompanato were staying. The detectives advised Stompanato to leave and escorted him out of the house and to the airport, where he boarded a plane back to the United States.
On the evening of April 4, 1958, after the Oscar telecast which she had attended without him, Turner and Stompanato began arguing heatedly in Turner’s rented house at 730 North Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills. Fearing her mother’s life was in danger, Turner’s 14-year-old daughter, Cheryl, grabbed a kitchen knife and ran to Turner’s defense. Many theories abound as to what actually happened, but the teenager apparently stabbed Stompanato, killing him. The murder case quickly became a media sensation. It was later deemed a justifiable homicide at a coroner’s inquest, at which Turner provided dramatic testimony.
Turner also famously dated Tyrone Power for several months and she considered him to be the love of her life. In her 1982 autobiography, Turner claims to have become pregnant with Powers’ child, in 1948, but chose to have an abortion. While on a 1948 goodwill trip to Europe and South Africa, he saw and fell in love with Linda Christian in Rome. Power and Christian were married on January 27, 1949.
A long-time heavy smoker, Turner was diagnosed with throat cancer in May 1992. She stopped smoking after her diagnosis and, in February 1993, announced she was cancer free. Despite treatment, the cancer returned in July 1994. Turner died at the age of 74 on June 29, 1995, of complications from throat cancer at her home in Century City, Los Angeles, California. Turner’s remains were cremated.
Turner was survived by Cheryl Crane, her only child; and Crane’s life partner Joyce “Josh” LeRoy, whom she said she accepted “as a second daughter”. They inherited some of Turner’s personal effects and $50,000 in Turner’s will (her estate was estimated in court documents at $1.7 million [$2.9 million in 2015 dollars]) with the majority of her estate left to Carmen Lopez Cruz, her maid and companion for 45 years and the caregiver for her final illness. Crane challenged the will and Lopez claimed the majority of the estate was consumed by probate costs, legal fees, and Turner’s final illness.
For her contribution to the motion-picture industry, Turner has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6241 Hollywood Boulevard. On May 24, 1950, Turner left hand- and footprints in front of the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
- February, 08, 1921
- Wallace, Idaho
- June, 29, 1995
- Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death
- complications from throat cancer
- Cremated, Ashes given to family