Lana Turner

lived in Historic Wallace Idaho
when she was a little girl

"Lana Turner was the Sweater Girl, provocatively sexy with a small town winsomeness -- a combination that meant dynamite at the box office. She was the image of coolness and glamour, in diamonds and white fur, but she always drew the hottest, blackest headlines." She was born at the Providence Hospital in Wallace at the mouth of Burke Canyon, and spent her earliest years in a long-gone house near the railroad tracks in the Canyon. However, by four, her family had moved to Wallace, as shown by the evidence below.
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1 Wallace City Directory
page 69
Turner John V (Mildred)
clerk, Wallace Corner Company
home, 217 Bank
2 National Register of Historic Places
Inventory: Wallace Historic District
page 23, OMB no. 1024-0018
Item 128: 217 Bank Street
ca. 1905-1910
click to enlarge Lana Turner's home in
   a separate window A two-story frame house with shed roof hidden behind false front with wooden cornice. Upper floor of the two-story front porch has been enclosed. [Blowup taken from 1929 photo of Wallace.]
"The Lady, The Legend, The Truth"
by Lana Turner
E.P. Dutton, Inc., 1982
excerpts from
pages 10 - 15, 81

"... And I'll begin with my birth date, which was never printed accurately. I am one year younger than the records show. Now, if I were going to lie about my age, I might as well make it two, three, or five years. Why they always got it wrong by one year, I'll never understand. Anyway, there it is on my birth certificate: Julia Jean Turner, born in Wallace, Idaho, February 8, 1921.

My mother, a reticent lady, never told me much about how I came to be there. Until recently I had supposed that she was a native of Wallace, too. But no, she was born Mildred Frances Cowen in Lamar, Arkansas, in 1904. ...

... Often [my mother] traveled with her father on mine-inspection tours. One of those stops was Picher, Oklahoma. In a roof-garden restaurant in Picher's rather plain downtown, a man asked her to dance. His name was John Virgil Turner.

... Anyway, my father was just out of the Army. He had served as an infantry platoon sergeant in World War I and had received several medals for valor. He was heading westward, working in the mines, and I guess that's how he got to Picher. After a night of dancing, he and my mother fell in love.

He was twenty-four, but she was only fifteen. When he began to court her, my grandfather put his foot down. So what could they do? They eloped.

I arrived about a year later. My father, with a partner, had opened a dry-cleaning establishment in Wallace. When the business failed, it was back to the mines for my father. One of my earliest memories is of him arriving home grimy and weary. Though life wasn't easy for either my mother or my father, we still had good times. At night my father would turn on the record player and laugh and dance around the room with my mother and me. Many times right after dinner my father would scoop me off my chair and dance with me alone. I was thrilled. He taught me a few simple steps and was generous with complements as I picked up a few. Maybe that's where my love of music and sense of rhythm got its start. ...

... But I found him lots of fun, a delightful father. After sitting me on his lap he'd stand me on the floor and teach me how to tap-dance the way he did in the Elks Club shows in Wallace. He could sing well too -- he was alive with talent.

... Once when the club had a fashion show, my mother modeled some furs. I was watching from backstage. I was so impressed with the way she looked that I put on a fur jacket and minced onstage, imitating her. I was four years old. They tell me I brought down the house.

...When I was six we piled possessions into a car and set out for San Francisco. ..."

"Once the film was completed [Somewhere I'll Find You, 1942, with Clark Gable] the studio sent me on another war-bond tour, and I took my mother with me. The itinerary had been arranged so I could visit my birthplace, Wallace, Idaho. ... But as we approached Wallace I saw a splendid rainbow spanning the road ahead. It was like a sign of welcome to the town I'd left when I was six.

We checked into our hotel, and were told that the Mayor had declared a holiday in my honor. A banner stretched across the street read, in large letters, WELCOME HOME, LANA. We'd been in our rooms only a few moments when people who claimed to have known us when we lived in Wallace began knocking on the door. Their names were strange to me. My mother said later that she remembered only a few of them, but she played her part graciously.

Later, when we stood on the platform with all eyes fixed on us -- if I'd stayed there, I'd had been among them -- I thought of how much my life had changed since my parents swept me off to the Golden Gate. Then I realized that it was only five years since I had first walked down a studio street, wearing a tight-fitting sweater. During those short years I had appeared in some fifteen pictures, had been married and divorced, and had become America's glamour queen. Only five years before I had been wrapping Christmas packages after school for $12/week. And today the bank and school were closed because I was back in town. The movies could do all this. What power they had to fire the public imagination! What was that elusive quality that separated me from the young Wallace, Idaho, girls straining to get a glimpse of me, that quality that made me a star?"

Visit the official Lana Turner website!
(© 1996-2002 Estate of Lana Turner and CMG Worldwide)

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