|Friday, 07 November 2008 12:27|
Born: April 5, 1962 Long Beach, California, United States
Died: February 3, 2003 Alhambra, California, United States
Cause of death: Single gunshot to the mouth.
Notable because: Was it accidental suicide as she kissed a loaded gun which then discharged in her mouth - or did Phil Spector have more to do with it?
Lana Clarkson was an American actress and fashion model. Clarkson was a native of Los Angeles County.
Born in Long Beach, California to Donna and James M. Clarkson, Lana Clarkson was raised in the beautiful hills of Napa Valley, California. She had a brother Jesse J. Clarkson and a sister Fawn. As a teenager Lana enjoyed nature and was an avid horseback rider and natural athlete. While living in Northern California, she attended Cloverdale High School and also Pacific Union College Preparatory School. During Christmas season in 1978 and after her father's death, Clarkson's family moved to Los Angeles, California and Lana pursued her dream of becoming a performer and fashion model. In the early 1980s, Clarkson landed bit parts in film and television. In 1982, she made her screen debut as a supporting character in director Amy Heckerling's coming of age high school comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High as the hot wife of science teacher Mr. Vargas (Vincent Schiavelli). The film was her first speaking role.
Clarkson's best known film work may be that with Roger Corman, appearing first in his fantasy film Deathstalker (1983), as a female warrior/love interest to Richard Hill, who played the title character. Corman oriented his films towards young male viewers, using a mix of action and female nudity. Clarkson's work in the film led to her being offered the title role in Corman's next film, Barbarian Queen (1985), a role Corman referred to as "the original Xena" because both featured a strong female leading character in an action-oriented sword-swinging role.
In 1987 Clarkson appeared in the John Landis spoof Amazon Women on the Moon. Following that, Clarkson starred in a sequel titled Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back (1989) (although the plot and the characters had nothing to do with the earlier film). Filmed in Mexico, the movie featured mud-wrestling Amazon women, magic sceptres, and Clarkson tortured in the dungeon of an evil knight. Clarkson received star billing in the film. The film appeared direct to video. Although sales of the video were low, Corman did manage to turn a profit.
In 1990, she starred as a supporting character in the period horror film Haunting of Morella as the evil attendant to a young woman played by Nicole Eggert. In the film, Clarkson played a dominating lesbian character who tries to resurrect the spirit of a witch burned at the stake during the Salem witch trials.
Clarkson's work in the B movie sci-fi genre inspired a cult following, making her a favorite at comic book conventions, where she made some promotional appearances signing autographs for her fans.
She appeared in numerous other B movies as well as a range of television spots and appearing in commercials for Mercedes-Benz, Kmart, Nike, Mattel, and Anheuser-Busch. Her television appearances include parts on Night Court, Silk Stalkings, Riptide, Three's Company, Knight Rider and Wings, and a guest appearance as a villain on the television adaptation of Roger Corman's film Black Scorpion in what would be her final role.
During her career, Clarkson travelled around the United States and Europe while working on high fashion photo shoots. Other projects took her to Japan, Argentina, Italy, Switzerland, France, and Mexico.
She volunteered weekly at the AIDS charity "Angel Food Project," which delivers food for those in Los Angeles disabled by HIV or AIDS, at a time when the disease was greatly feared by the general public.
As she approached her thirties, Clarkson's career began to stall. No longer able to earn a living as an actress, Clarkson sought alternate routes of income, including operating her own website on which she sold autographed DVDs of her films and communicated directly with her fans on her own message board.
In 2001, while living on the canals in Venice, California for the last several years, Clarkson developed, wrote, produced, and directed a showcase reel entitled Lana Unleashed. To make ends meet, she took a side job in early January 2003 at one of LA's trendiest nightspots, House of Blues, in West Hollywood, California.
On February 3, 2003, Clarkson met music producer Phil Spector at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, where she worked that night as a hostess. After her shift ended, Lana was invited by Spector to go home with him for a drink. Soon after midnight they left House of Blues and headed north in his limo to his home in Alhambra, California.
In the early morning hours of February 3, 2003, Clarkson was found dead in a foyer of Spector's mansion "Pyrenees Castle" in Alhambra, California. The coroner's report stated that Clarkson died from a single gunshot to her mouth. According to affidavits, when the police responded to 911 call they were surprised to find it was the home of Mr. Spector, whom they found inside. Mr. Spector stated that Clarkson's death was an "accidental suicide", and claimed that Lana Clarkson kissed the gun and mistakenly shot herself. Before the 911 call was placed Spector confessed to his driver and butler Adriano DeSouza who was standing outside the house at the time of Clarkson's death that he just shot and killed someone by accident.
Spector was arrested on February 3, 2003 and remains free on bond of $1,000,000. On September 27, 2004, Spector was formally charged with Clarkson's murder. Spector denied the allegations, claiming Clarkson's death was an "accidental suicide". During the trial, deputy Los Angeles County medical examiner Dr. Luis Pena, who performed Clarkson's autopsy, testified that Clarkson's death was a homicide and that Clarkson died instantly from the shot fired to her mouth. On September 26, 2007, judge Larry Paul Fidler declared a mistrial because the jury split 10-2 with the majority favoring conviction and was unable to reach a verdict. The same day, the Los Angeles District Attorney's office announced its intention to re-try the case. The new jury selection in the retrial began in Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles, California on October 20, 2008.
Clarkson's private funeral service was held on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. Her remains had been cremated and interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, in the Columbarium Rotunda attached to the Chapel in Hollywood, California.
On February 23, 2003 a crowd of 250 people, mostly Clarkson's family and friends, attended a memorial in her honor which was held at Henry Fonda Music Box Theatre in Hollywood, California.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 March 2009 13:59|