OFFBEAT: Lana Turner is latest stage sendup for Hammond grad

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-05-06T00:05:00Z OFFBEAT: Lana Turner is latest stage sendup for Hammond gradBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

A one-line mention in my Friday column, referring to an "on-the-set feud" between the late, legendary big screen actresses Jane Wyman and Lana Turner while sharing the small screen for the TV series "Falcon Crest," prompted weekend phone calls from readers.

While readers remember both actresses as movie star favorites, what wasn't remembered was that Turner had a turn on the popular CBS prime time soap, causing readers to question if I had printed a mistake.

Turner appeared on the series for just the 1982-83 season, playing the mother of Robert Foxworth's character Chase, who happened to also be the arch-rival of Wyman's plotting Angela Channing character. (Turner's character Jacqueline had an affair with Angela's first husband, starting the feud.)

According to media reports at the time, in real life, Wyman, who was the series' star, and Turner, who was only an added guest star, differed offcamera because of opposite work styles. Wyman, who was 65 at this time, was no-nonsense "get the job done," while Turner, 61, expected "star treatment" at all times.

Reportedly, while shooting on location, Turner refused to walk back to her on-site trailer to use "the powder room" during a break in filming, insisting on a limousine on standby at all times, per her contract, including transporting to her dressing room. In a famous quote, a bothered Wyman said: "A limo to the loo?" Ahem, Turner's character was killed off at the end of the season.

Our own playwright-actor-director-writer Northwest Indiana claim-to-fame David Cerda, a 1979 graduate of Hammond High School, is giving audiences a fun parody look at the life of Turner with his latest stage spoof compliments of his Hell in a Handbag Productions, Chicago's leading camp and parody theater company.

Now in its 11th year, he has kicked off the season with what he calls "a sudsy potboiler about race, mothers and daughters and looking fabulous."

It's called "L'imitation of Life," adapted by Ricky Graham with the Running with Scissors Theater Company in New Orleans, and playing at Mary's Attic, 5400 N. Clark St. on Chicago's north side. An extra performance has just been added, with the show now running until Saturday.

All showtimes are 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $15 to $25 with premium VIP seats available for $35 to $100.

The show promises audiences "a wicked parody of 'Imitation of Life,' the classic Douglas Sirk directed (a three hankie tearjerker) film.

Handbag ensemble member Ed Jones channels postmurder trial Lana Turner in all of her scene-chewing glory.

For reservations for any of the shows, call (800) 838-3006 or visit Brown Paper Tickets online at

Hell in a Handbag is dedicated to the preservation, exploration and celebration of works ingrained in the realm of popular culture via theatrical productions through parody, music and homage. Handbag is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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