Saturday, March 01, 2014

Jane vs. Lana: Where's the beef?

Lana Turner (shown with Gene Kelly): with her platinum blonde hair, curvaceous body, and gorgeous face, she was a star in every sense of the word, trained by the best at MGM.

Jane Wyman (with Rock Hudson): an attractive brunette who managed to be nominated four times for an Oscar (winning once for "Johnny Belinda") during her lengthy and prestigious career.

When it was announced that Lana Turner had signed on for a guest starring role in Wyman's prime-time sudser, "Falcon Crest," the tabloids pronounced that fireworks would erupt as the two "divas" did not get along. Instead, the two stars put on smiles for the cameras and said the feud was nothing but horse-poo. Here they are as they take a break on the set in January 1982 at Malibu Beach.

Here is their dramatic first scene, where their characters, Angela Channing (Wyman) and Jacqueline Perrault, meet again for the first time in several years.

Turner enjoyed a mini-resurgence in her career, thanks to her guest starring role. On the Phil Donahue Show, Lana held court, breathlessly telling the audience while fanning herself: "Oh, the plans they have for Jacqueline!"

As you can see, Turner publicly denied any feud. According to the rags, the two women hated each other so much they never spoke off set, and scenes between their characters were filmed separately and spliced together in editing. After Turner's character was killed off in the second season, she told the press that Wyman's bad behavior was because she was bitter that her ex-husband, Ronald Reagan, was then President of the United States.

Huh?!? I think I smell manure.

What was more likely the truth was that no-nonsense Wyman was not interested in the long hours it took for Lana to become her most glamorous-self. It also annoyed Wyman to no end to hear Lana taking credit for the high ratings of the show. Still, Wyman kept her mouth shut in public and refused to answer questions about the alleged feud.

I remember watching the shows with Turner when they aired. I also remember having a feeling of, "Is that all there is?" There was very little dramatic tension or excitement over Turner's story line, which seemed more manufactured than real. Frankly, the Lana Turner episodes were boring. The story in the tabloids was more exciting than what was being shown on the boob-tube.

For a fascinating 5-part 1996 interview on Jane Wyman, you won't want to miss this:

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