Paying Tribute To Lana Clarkson…
There are many “True Hollywood Stories” that I have told – stars of all eras who have great success, and sadly in many cases, a tragic end…that is the case with Cult Actress Lana Clarkson, murdered senselessly by Music Producer Phil Spector…
One of the myths surrounding her life is that she was a “wannabe” Actress who would do anything to get a part – and that in some way she was responsible for her own death…
In fact, Lana had more than 35 acting credits in her career…one of the countless working Actresses who never stopped looking for their next role.
Her encounter with Spector was part of that Hollywood hustle: you “networked” in order to keep a profile in the business while you looked for your next big break.
I wanted to counter some of the misinformation about her career, which was terrific. Here’s a look at some of her best film roles.
She was born Lana Jean Clarkson on April 5, 1962. She grew up in Long Beach California, just south of Hollywood.
Lana made her movie debut in the classic 1982 coming of age comedy “Fast Times At Ridgmont High.”
She continued to act in a variety of film and TV shows, before legendary Producer Roger Corman hired her for his 1983 fantasy film “Deathstalker.”
A lone warrior nicknamed Deathstalker is sent by a witch on a quest to find a sword, a chalice, and an amulet, two of which are held by the wicked king and sorcerer, Munkar.
Here is the trailer:
Corman was so impressed he offered Lana the lead role in his 1985 film “Barbarian Queen” – check out the trailer:
These 80’s “sword and sorcery” epics were fun, campy drive-in fare – but she was an empowered woman who kicked ass – even while topless!
She was also one of the “Vice Girls” and a female mercenary as well:
In 1987, she appeared in the John Landis film “Amazon Women on The Moon.”
After starring in “Barbarian Queen” as the sword-wielding lead, a character Corman fondly refers to as “the original Xena,” Lana returned inthe 1990 seuqel:
“Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back!”
Here’s the trailer to this campy action epic:
This was the height of the VHS era, when films like this were rented all around the world – and also ended up on late night cable…and Lan was the star!
She also appeared in “The Haunting Of Morella” that same year.
In this Jim Wynorski film, a witch is put to death in Colonial America, leaving her husband and infant daughter behind. Seventeen years later, the daughter has grown up and stands to inherit money set up by her mother’s family.
Just one problem: the mother wants to return to life by taking over her daughter’s body!
Check out the trailer:
Lana had a loyal fan base, and was always a favorite at comic book conventions, where she signed autographs and was known to be friendly and accessible to all of her loyal fans.
Lana also appeared in many TV shows at the time as well, like “Three’s Company”, “Night Court” and “Who’s The Boss?”
Lana also did stunt work in the 1997 film “Retroactive.”
As her acting career cooled off, she found success working in television commercials, for Mercedes-Benz, Nike, Anheiser Busch, Playtex bras, Kmart and Mattel.
She was murdered by Music Producer Phil Spector at his house on February 3, 2003. She was only 41 years old…
As recounted in wikipedia:
In the early hours of that morning, she met Spector while working at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. They left in Spector’s limousine and drove to his mansion. Spector and Clarkson went inside while his driver waited outside in the car.
About an hour later, the driver heard a gunshot before Spector exited his house through the back door with a gun. He was quoted as saying, according to affidavits, “I think I just shot her.”
Spector later said Clarkson’s death was an “accidental suicide” and that she “kissed the gun”.
Spector was convicted of her murder and died while in prison. The story was turned into an HBO movie starring Al Pacino and Helen Mirren…
Lana deserved better than the news coverage at the time, calling her a failed, wannabe Actress whose desperation for fame caused her tragic death…far from it – she was an accomplished Actress who sadly came in contact with the evil that is far too pervasive in this town.
I wanted to share her story because she was a Cult Movie Queen who deserves recognition for her career achievements…her story reminds me of another “True Hollywood Tragedy”:
Caroll Wayne was a regular on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, but died in a mysterious downing in Mexico…click here to see the whole story:
Carol Wayne’s death was called an accident, even with all of the suspicious circumstances.
Here’s another tragic Hollywood story:
Dorothy Stratten was poised for stardom before tragedy struck – here is the whole story:
And here’s another sad, cautionary tale of Hollywood – and how tough it is to survive in this town…
Yvette Vickers was the star of “Attack Of The 50-Foot Woman”, but was found dead, isolated and alone, in her house decades later…see the whole story by clicking here:
For many, success in Hollywood comes with a downside: drugs and alcohol:
Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith was in a number of films in the 70’s and 80’s before her life sadly spiraled out of control: you can see her whole story by clicking here:
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