Mervyn LeRoy Prayed for Lana Turner

On September 1, 1942 motion picture director Mervyn LeRoy took over Walter Winchell’s column during his absence and decided to let readers in on the skinny of discovering stars - and legends like Lana Turner. He wrote:

About the only concrete thing I can say about star discovering is that there is no rule-of-thumb standard for finding them. In other words, you don’t spot ‘em- you pray for ‘em . . .

The story of Lana Turner is a case in point.

She was too scared to look like a star or even a potential star when first I met her. I was casting for “They Won’t Forget.” I had interviewed over a hundred girls and none seemed suited for the role I had in mind. Then Solly Biano, a Warner’s talent scout, reported that a friend of ours, Billy Wilkerson, editor and publisher of the film trade paper, The Hollywood Reporter, had tipped him about a girl he had seen having a soda across the street from his publishing firm.

Solly checked back and Lana came to see me. She was as scared as a rabbit; but I knew she’d make a good actress. So I signed her to a personal contract and put her into a sweater; the former was good business, the latter was what the customers wanted to see. The rest is all history. She’s come along from obscurity to stardom on a hunch of mine- and approval by you.

Interesting tidbits there and I’m sure Solly Biana appreciated the shout out too, though years later his involvement is pretty much passed over.

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