One of the most glamorous superstars of Hollywood's golden era, Lana Turner was born February 8, 1921, in Wallace, ID. At the age of 15, while cutting school, she was spotted by Hollywood Reporter staffer Billy Wilkinson in a Hollywood drugstore; enchanted by her beauty, he escorted her to the offices of the Zeppo Marx Agency, resulting in a bit part in 1937's A Star Is Born. Rejected by RKO, Fox, and any number of other studios, Turner next briefly showed up in They Won't Forget. Mervin LeRoy, the picture's director, offered her a personal contract at 50 dollars a week, and she subsequently appeared fleetingly in a series of films at Warner Bros.
When LeRoy moved to MGM, Turner followed, and the usual series of bit parts followed before she won her first lead role in the 1939 B-comedy These Glamour Girls. Dancing Co-Ed, a vehicle for bandleader Artie Shaw, followed that same year, and after starring in 1940's Two Girls on Broadway, she and Shaw married. Dubbed "the Sweater Girl" by the press, Turner was touted by MGM as a successor to Jean Harlow, but audiences did not take her to heart; she did, however, become a popular pin-up, especially with American soldiers fighting overseas. In 1941 she starred opposite Clark Gable in Honky Tonk, her first major hit. They again teamed in Somewhere I'll Find You the next year. Upon separating from Shaw, Turner married actor Stephen Crane, but when his earlier divorce was declared invalid, a media frenzy followed; MGM chief Louis B. Mayer was so incensed by the debacle that he kept the now-pregnant Turner off movie screens for a year.