In the 1940s, Lana Turner had her own special table at Ciro’s on the Sunset Strip. “How I’d love to dress up and go dancing with a handsome dark man,” she recalled in her 1982 memoir. “When I was seated, I’d give the room a long casing, bowing to this one or blowing that one a kiss. Silly, I guess, but fun.”

A great beauty who became a Hollywood legend, Lana appeared to have everything stardom promised, including fame, wealth and power. The only thing her enviable career couldn’t bring her — lasting love — would be her greatest sorrow. Worse yet, her poor choices in seven husbands and many lovers wouldn’t just impact her own life, they would also cause real harm to her daughter, Cheryl Crane.

Lana’s legend began in 1936 when she was spotted sipping a soda in an ice cream shop near her high school. Then known by her birth name, Julia Turner, she had never considered acting. “Her dream was to design clothing,” explains Darwin Porter, coauthor of Lana Turner: Hearts & Diamonds Take All, to Closer exclusively. Instead, within a year, Lana would become one of MGM’s brightest lights alongside Judy Garland, Ava Gardner and Rita Hayworth.

As her star rose, Lana received a lot of attention from men. Her mother tried to rein in her social life, but Lana wouldn’t listen. “She wasn’t supposed to go out with servicemen, but she was just on a wild tear,” says Porter, adding that eventually, Lana kicked her mother out of the home they shared so she could do exactly as she pleased. “She wanted unbridled dating privileges without restriction. I felt she was really looking for love.”

Lana Turner Was ‘Looking for Love’ Amid Failed Marriages

Lana once famously joked, “I started out wanting one husband and seven children, but it ended up the other way around.” While it’s hard to fault a girl for possessing an open heart, Lana did have a knack for choosing the wrong men. “In 1940, when she was just a starlet, MGM cast her in Honky Tonk with Clark Gable. They had an incredible affair, but it didn’t last,” says Porter. Lana also fell for another womanizer, Desi Arnaz. “She thought they had a real thing going,” says Porter. “Then he left to shoot Too Many Girls.” Desi met Lucille Ball on that film and ended his romance with Lana.

In her 1982 memoir, Lana: The Lady, the Legend, the Truth, she calls Tyrone Power the greatest love of her life. “No man except possibly Tyrone Power took the time to find out that I was a human being, not just a pretty, shapely little thing,” she wrote. Despite the ardor of their romance, Tyrone ended it after 18 months and Lana terminated her pregnancy with their baby.

Her only child, Cheryl Crane, arrived in 1943, but their conflicting blood types made the delivery dangerous for both mother and baby. “My birth was a life and death struggle,” Cheryl wrote in Detour: A Hollywood Story. “That was me all over.”

Lana employed staff to raise Cheryl, yet that didn’t stop the little girl from worshipping her mother. “To my child’s mind, she was the perfect dream of golden beauty,” Cheryl wrote. But sadly, Lana’s inattention had terrible consequences. The actress’ fourth husband, Tarzan actor Lex Barker, sexually abused and raped Cheryl over a period of two years. Cheryl was 12 when she finally told her mother. Conscious of avoiding a scandal, Lana didn’t call the police, but she did wake a sleeping Barker by holding a gun to his head and throwing him out of her home and life forever.

A few years later, on April 4, 1958, the roles reversed when Cheryl rose to her mother’s defense by stabbing Lana’s abusive lover Johnny Stompanato to death. That time, there would be no keeping the secret. Cheryl was put on trial and Lana testified. “More than once I nearly broke down on the witness stand from the mixture of agony and shame,” Lana recalled. In the end, the death was ruled a justifiable homicide.

By 1980, Lana had stopped drinking and found more serenity by looking inward. “I have matured with the realization that I can live without a man,” she said. “Oh, how I love this freedom. It’s a glorious, wonderful experience.”

Before her death in 1995 at age 75, Lana and Cheryl became very close again. The iconic actress also found grace and the love she had longed for in her faith. “I’m very close to God. I read the Daily Word, and I have learned to meditate,” Lana confessed, admitting, “I’m still getting used to this new woman.”