Sweater girl: Lana Turner
In its five decades at the epicenter of the movie industry’s comings and goings on the Sunset Strip, Schwab’s Drug Store was a lot of things — a movie industry meeting place, restaurant, soda fountain, liquor store, tourist attraction and, oh yeah, a pharmacy.
But there was one thing Schwab’s was not. Despite the persistent myth otherwise, it was not where Lana Turner was discovered.
Here’s the myth: In January 1937, 16-year-old Judy Turner ditched high school to grab a Coke at Schwab’s. Mervyn Le Roy, the famous movie director, happened to be seated at the counter that day. He couldn’t help noticing the attractive young lady. Sure, she was wearing a tight sweater but what really got the director’s attention was Judy’s wholesome beauty. The director introduced himself and offered her a screen test. The test was boffo, and the studio offered her a contract on the spot. Judy changed her name to Lana and, after making a movie or two, she was Lana Turner, one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.
By the time his career ended, Frank Sinatra had become the avatar of 1960s’ “Rat Pack” cool. An American original. An institution.
His career took off in the early years of World War II when his smooth, mournful crooning thrilled socks off of bobby-soxers. But within a very few years, his career suddenly veered into the weeds.
Part of the problem was that smoking and booze had deepened his voice. Once known as “The Voice,” he was derided as “The Gargle.”
It didn’t help that he kept popping up in the headlines, and not in a good way. In 1946, on a visit to Cuba, Sinatra was seen shaking hands with the mobster, Lucky Luciano. In 1947, he briefly left his wife and children, Nancy, age seven, and Frank Jr., age four, for Lana Turner. His former bobby-soxer fans, now entering their twenties, were appalled.
But at Ciro’s on April 9, 1947, Sinatra caused another uproar when he was arrested after taking a swing at columnist Lee Mortimer.
Here’s how the incident was described Modern Television & Radio in December 1948, by Barry Ulanov, editor of Metronome Magazine: