12.16.2013

THE DEATH OF MOBSTER JOHNNY STOMPANATO


John "Johnny" Stompanato, also known as "Handsome Harry", "Johnny Stomp", "John Steele", and "Oscar", was a former United States Marine who became a bodyguard and enforcer for gangster Mickey Cohen. Johnny Stomp was a featured character in one of my very favorite films "LA Confidential".


Good Friday 1958 the police were called to Lana Turner's spacious home in Beverly Hills.  They found a man lying dead on the floor of Lana's pink boudoir.


The man was Johnny Stomp. He and his lover, Lana had gotten into a terrible row as Ms Turner was trying to end their affair. In the next room was Lana's 14 year old daughter Cheryl..She heard the horrible fighting and testified that she had seen bruising on her mother's face from beatings inflicted by Johnny.


"There were awful fights, screaming and yelling and smashing glasses and just, you know, things I wasn't used to hearing," Cheryl told Larry King. "And she finally sat me down and told me the whole story about having had him thrown out of England when she was filming there because he beat her so badly. How he had threatened her life, my grandmother's life. She couldn't get him out of the house. She couldn't get rid of him. And my reaction was, 'Well, mother, call the police.'


Lana wouldn't call the police for fear of the negative publicity to her career.  The fight escalated and Cheryl yelled through the door for him to stop.  Lana ordered her daughter away from the door.



Cheryl went down to the kitchen and grabbed a carving knife and went back to her mother's bedroom door..the fight had calmed some but then she heard Stompanato threaten to cut her mother's face and hurt she and her grandmother.


Within minutes a doctor and Lana's mother were on the scene. Turner was giving Johnny mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when they arrived. The doctor, a family friend, gave Stompanato a shot of adrenaline directly into his heart, but it was fruitless. Johnny Stompanato, military hero, wannabe actor, small-time hood, gigolo and abuser was dead.

Jewelry Johnny was wearing that night...

Soon the Beverly Hills Police descended on Turners home and with them came a throng of reporters. It was inevitable that the media would be tipped to the story by police sources. The next morning, crime scene photos of Johnny Stompanato lying dead in Lana Turners bedroom were on the front page of newspapers everywhere.


Rumors spread that perhaps Lana had really been the stabber..her daughter covering for her mother. Cheryl states to this day that was not the case.


Lana and Cheryl rode to the Beverly Hills Police Station in Attorney Geisler's (Better Call Saul) limousine. There had been some questioning at the homicide scene, but formal statements were not taken until after Lana and her daughter had time to discuss the case with Geisler. That opportunity to confer helped spur rumors that Lana had killed Johnny and tried to blame Cheryl.


Photo above: Lana Turner, her gangster boyfriend Johnny Stompanato, and her daughter and his future killer Cheryl Crane.

Under questioning by authorities, with her mother present, Cheryl recounted the story of Stompanato's death.


"I think that they were so careful to make sure they dotted all their I's and crossed all their T's," Cheryl told Larry King. "And they didn't want anyone to show say they showed favoritism, you know, a star's kid or anything like that, because they kept me overnight at the Beverly Hills police station in a cell."


It's no secret that the glamorous veneer of Hollywood is paper-thin and that beneath the glitzy surface exists a world of greed, violence and decadence.


 Like a movie set, the Hollywood facade has no depth and cannot stand too close scrutiny. There is no other place where the difference between style and substance is so great. Hollywood is a dream factory, and dreams are not reality.

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