Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

March 19, 1958: Lana Turner is met by a reporter after returning to Los Angeles from a two-month vacation at Acapulco. With her is Johnny Stompanato, former associate of Mickey Cohen, though she claimed there was no romance. Her daughter Cheryl, 14, is at right. This photo was published in the March 30, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

The body of Johnny Stompanato, 42, is removed from the home of actress Lana Turner, where he was stabbed to death by the star's 14-year-old daughter, Cheryl Crane. This photo was published in the April 5, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Smith / Los Angeles Times

April 5, 1958: Stephen Crane, center, walks with his daughter Cheryl Crane and an unidentified man into Beverly Hills police headquarters, where she was questioned about the slaying of Johnny Stompanato, friend of her mother, Lana Turner.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 5, 1958: A news photographer gets a close-up of Cheryl Crane, 14, as she sits at Beverly Hills police headquarters after the stabbing death of Johnny Stompanato.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bruce Cox / Los Angeles Times

April 5, 1958: Cheryl Crane, 14, is photographed in the office of Beverly Hills Police Chief Clinton H. Anderson after she was detained in the stabbing death of Johnny Stompanato.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 5, 1958: Beverly Hills police Sgt. Russell Peterson holds the 10-inch butcher knife used in the fatal stabbing of Johnny Stompanato. This photo was published in the April 6, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Loren Patty / Mirror-News

April 5, 1958: Actress Lana Turner leaves her home, the scene of the fatal stabbing of Johnny Stompanato, headed to police station. This photo was published in the April 5, 1958, Los Angeles Mirror News.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Loren Patty / Los Angeles Mirror-News

April 5, 1958: Actress Lana Turner is escorted by attorney Jerry Fiesler after daughter Cheryl Crane stabbed Johnny Stompanato to death in her Beverly Hills home.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Loren Patty / Los Angeles Times

April 5, 1958: Copy of a photo of Lana Turner found on the body of John Stompanato, inscribed: "Para Juanito, mi amor y mi vida -- Lanita" (For Johnny, my love and my life -- Lanita). This photo was published in the April 7, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: library file photo

April 6, 1958: Cheryl Crane, 14, leaves the Beverly Hills police station for Juvenile Hall accompanied by Officer Margaret Weissberg. This photo was published in the April 6, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 7, 1958: Carmine Stompanato, elder brother of Johnny Stompanato, phones relatives in Illinois to begin making funeral arrangements, with the notorious gangster Mickey Cohen, who was Johnny Stompanato's ex-employer, at his side. This photo was published in the April 7, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 7, 1958: Stephen Crane, ex-husband of Lana Turner, leans past the actress to shake hands with her mother, Mildred Turner, at Juvenile Hall, where Cheryl Crane, 14, was ordered held in custody. This photo was published in the April 8, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 7, 1958: Actress Lana Turner during Juvenile Hall proceeding that determined that her daughter Cheryl Crane, 14, should be held in the stabbing death of Johnny Stompanato.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 7, 1958: The butcher knife used in the slaying of Johnny Stompanato and fingerprints of Cheryl Crane are studied by Beverly Hills police Officer Joe Head. This photo was published in the April 8, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Delmar Watson / Los Angeles Mirror-News

April 7, 1958: Photographers crowd juvenile hearing for Cheryl Crane. Her mother, Lana Turner, is seated with her back to the camera, second from right.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 7, 1958: Attorney Jerry Giesler ponders question from Louis Blou, right, Lana Turner's personal attorney, as they appear with her at a hearing that failed to free daughter Cheryl Crane, 14. This photo was published in the April 8, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 7, 1958: Actress Lana Turner buries her face in her hands as she leaves Juvenile Hall, where her daughter Cheryl Crane, 14, was ordered held for a hearing on the stabbing death of John Stompanato. This photo was published in the April 8, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times

April 8, 1958: Pajama-clad Mickey Cohen, irked by actress Lana Turner's assertions that Johnny Stompanato chased her, sits by a fireplace as he tells newsmen about apparently sizzling love letters that she penned to his onetime bodyguard. This photo was published in the April 8, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times

April 9, 1958: Mickey Cohen views the flag-draped body of Johnny Stompanato, stabbed to death by Cheryl Crane, Lana Turner's 14-year-old daughter. Stompanato served in the U.S. Marines during World War II.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 10, 1958: Courtroom at Los Angeles Hall of Records where coroner's inquest will convene in the stabbing death of John Stompanato. This photo was published in the April 10, 1958, Mirror-News.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bob Martin / Mirror-News

April 11, 1958: Mickey Cohen, right, seated at table, during hearing on stabbing death of his former bodyguard John Stompanato.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 11, 1958: Mickey Cohen on witness stand during coroner's inquest into the stabbing death of his former bodyguard John Stompanato. This photo was published in the April 11, 1958, Mirror News.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bob Martin / Los Angeles Times

April 11, 1958: Stephen Crane, father of actress Lana Turner's daughter Cheryl Crane, testifies at inquest into stabbing death of John Stompanato. This photo was published in the April 12, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 11, 1958: Actress Lana Turner, seated right, with attorney Jerry Giesler, during hearing into stabbing death of John Stompanato by Turner's daughter Cheryl Crane, 14.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 11, 1958: Actress Lana Turner on the stand during a coroner's hearing into the stabbing death of John Stompanato by Turner's daughter Cheryl Crane, 14.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 11, 1958: Hands clenched and tears in her eyes, Lana Turner sobs as she tells the dramatic story of Johnny Stompanato's slaying at an inquest that cleared her daughter. The photo on the left was published on Page One of the April 12, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ray Graham / Los Angeles Times

April 11, 1958: Actress Lana Turner with photographers at a coroner's hearing into the stabbing death of John Stompanato by Turner's daughter Cheryl Crane, 14.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 11, 1958: Actress Lana Turner, seated by attorney Jerry Gesler, rests her head on her hand and holds back tears during a moment at the hearing into the stabbing death of John Stompanato. Turner's daughter, Cheryl Crane, 14, was held for the stabbing. This photo was published in the April 12, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 11, 1958: Crowd in courtroom as actress Lana Turner testifies during inquest in the stabbing death of John Stompanato by Turner's daughter Cheryl Crane, 14.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 11, 1958: Actress Lana Turner, center, with her mother, Mildred Turner, and attorney Jerry Giesler, walks out of Hall of Records following verdict of "justified homicide." This photo was published in the April 13, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

April 19, 1958: Mildred Turner and her daughter actress Lana Turner leave Juvenile Hall after nearly an hour's visit with Lana's daughter Cheryl Crane, 14. Crane was cleared in the stabbing death of John Stompanato. This photo was published in the April 20, 1958, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: William Murphy / Los Angeles Times

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The 1958 stabbing of Johnny Stompanato

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The 1958 stabbing of Johnny Stompanato

It was the most sensational celebrity story of 1958: the fatal stabbing of Johnny Stompanato by actress Lana Turner’s teenage daughter, Cheryl Crane.

On Aug. 10, 2015, the Los Angeles Times published an excellent piece by reporter Doug Smith on the 1958 stabbing. Smith’s story begins:

On the night that Beverly Hills police were called to the home on North Bedford Drive, cinema femme fatale Lana Turner was already on her way to becoming a Hollywood legend.

The sultry blond, famously “discovered” in a Hollywood soda bar, had played the unfulfilled murderous wife in “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and gained a best actress Oscar nomination for her role as the repressed shop owner in “Peyton Place.”

But that night, April 4, 1958, her status as a Noir icon was sealed in blood.

On the floor of her upstairs bedroom lay the lifeless body of Johnny Stompanato, her handsome tough-guy beau and reputed associate of mobster Mickey Cohen.

Stompanato had been stabbed in the abdomen with a butcher knife. Before the night was out, Turner’s 14-year-old daughter confessed to delivering the fatal wounds.

Cheryl Crane, whose father was restaurateur Stephen Crane, said she stabbed Stompanato to protect her mother from what she thought was Stompanato’s homicidal rage.

The killing led to what was surely the most titillating in L.A.’s history of colorful coroner’s inquests. …

Seven days later, Turner delivered what was described as the most important performance of her life, an hourlong recitation of the escalating argument that climaxed in the sudden and unexpected knife thrust that killed Stompanato. …

After hearing Turner’s testimony, a 12-member coroner’s jury quickly reached a unanimous verdict of justifiable homicide. …

After helping scan several archival prints to accompany Smith’s 2015 piece, I located about 50 4-by-5-inch negatives from The Times coverage. Many of the images were unpublished — until now.

As these photos illustrate, photographers had excellent courtroom access in 1958. Several of these images have been added to the Photojournalist on the Job gallery.

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