Lana Jean Clarkson
April 5, 1962
Long Beach, California, U.S.
|Died||February 3, 2003 (aged 40)|
Alhambra, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Gunshot wound|
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
|Alma mater||Pacific Union College|
Lana Jean Clarkson (April 5, 1962 – February 3, 2003) was an American actress and fashion model. During the 1980s, she rose to prominence in several sword-and-sorcery films. In 2003, she was shot and killed inside the home of record producer Phil Spector, who was charged with second-degree murder and convicted in 2009.
Clarkson was born in Long Beach, California to Donna and James M. Clarkson and was raised in the hills of Sonoma County, California. She had a brother, Jessee J. Clarkson, and a sister, Fawn. While living in Northern California, she attended Cloverdale High School and Pacific Union College Preparatory School. During the Christmas season of 1978 and after her father's death, Clarkson's family returned to Southern California and settled in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles. After Clarkson's family moved back to Los Angeles County, she pursued a career in the entertainment industry as a performer and fashion model.
In the early 1980s, Clarkson landed bit parts in film and television. She made her screen debut as a minor character in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), director Amy Heckerling's coming-of-age comedy. She played the wife of science teacher Mr. Vargas (Vincent Schiavelli). The film was her first speaking role. She appeared in Scarface (1983) behind Michelle Pfeiffer dancing on the floor of the Babylon Club.
As an actress, Clarkson became best known for her five feature films for producer Roger Corman, beginning with his fantasy film Deathstalker (1983), as a female warrior and love interest to the title character played by Richard Hill. Corman oriented his films towards young male viewers, using a mix of action and female nudity. Clarkson's work in Deathstalker 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 of the parallel in featuring 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 Roger Corman's Barbarian Queen sequel, Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back.
Clarkson starred as a supporting character in the period horror film, The Haunting of Morella (1990), as the evil attendant to a young woman played by model/actress 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. In her final film for Corman, Vice Girls (1996), Clarkson played one of three cops who posed as strippers to catch a serial killer.
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. She also appeared 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.
Clarkson traveled around the United States and Europe while working on fashion photo shoots. Other projects took her to Japan, Greece, Argentina, Italy, Switzerland, France, Jamaica, and Mexico.
In the 1980s she volunteered weekly at the AIDS charity Project Angel Food 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.
Clarkson's career began to stall as she approached her thirties. No longer able to earn a living as an actress, Clarkson sought alternative sources 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. Although she made a living by playing busty, lusty women, Clarkson's fondest desire was to be cast as a comic actress or perform as a comedian. Her publicist friend Edward Lozzi told Vanity Fair writer Dominic Dunne that Clarkson had been working on a stand-up comedy act that he had witnessed.
In 2001, while living in Venice, California for the last several years, Clarkson developed, wrote, produced, and directed a showcase reel titled Lana Unleashed. She took a part-time side job in early January 2003 at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, California to make ends meet.
On February 3, 2003, Clarkson was found dead in the mansion belonging to record producer Phil Spector. In the early hours of that morning, she met Spector while working at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. They left the House of Blues 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 appeared in court charged with the murder of Clarkson in 2007. On September 26, 2007, the trial judge threw the case out due to a hung jury ten to two for conviction. The prosecution pushed for a retrial and Spector was retried for second-degree murder on October 20, 2008. On April 13, 2009, Spector was found guilty of murdering Clarkson. Spector was sentenced on May 29, 2009 to 19 years to life in state prison.
In February 2012, Donna Clarkson, the mother of the actress, settled a civil lawsuit with Spector and his insurance company over the wrongful death of Lana Clarkson. Terms of the settlement were not released to the public.
|1982||My Favorite Year||Girl in Old Gold Cigarette Pack||Uncredited|
|1982||Fast Times at Ridgemont High||Mrs. Vargas|
|1983||Deathstalker||Kaira||Alternative title: Warrior King|
|1983||Brainstorm||Food Fantasy Girl||Uncredited|
|1983||Scarface||Woman at Babylon Club #6||Extra|
|1987||Amazon Women on the Moon||Alpha Beta||(segment "Amazon Women on the Moon")|
|1989||Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II||Amathea|
|1990||The Haunting of Morella||Coel|
|1990||Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back||Princess Athalia||Direct-to-video release|
|1997||Vice Girls||Jan Cooper|
|1997||Love in Paris||Woman at Fashion Show||Alternative title: Another 9½ Weeks|
|2000||Little Man on Campus||Joyce||Short|
|2001||March||Dr. Ellen Taylor||(final film role)|
|1983||Three's Company||Sharon Gordon||Episode: "Alias Jack Tripper"|
|1983||The Jeffersons||Sofia||Episode: "Who's the Fairest?"|
|1984||Brothers||Vanessa||Episode: "Fear of Flying"|
|1984||The New Mike Hammer||Masseuse||Episode: "Kill Devil"|
|1984||Riptide||Kelly||Episode: "Catch of the Day"|
|1984||Knight Rider||Marilyn||Episode: "The Rotten Apples"|
|1984||Who's the Boss?||Nanette||Episode: "Sports Buddies"|
|1985||The A-Team||Sonny Monroe's Girlfriend||Episode: "Champ!"|
|1985||George Burns Comedy Week||Librarian||Episode: "Disaster at Buzz Creek"|
|1985–1990||Night Court||Various roles||2 episodes|
|1986||Hotel||Sheila Carlson||Episode: "Hidden Talents"|
|1986||Amazing Stories||Mrs. Ellis||Episode: "Miscalculation"|
|1986||The Love Boat||Angela||Episode: "The Shipshape Cruise"|
|1988||It's a Living||Fawn||Episode: "Skin Deep"|
|1992||Wings||Janine||Episode: "Noses Off"|
|1993–1995||Silk Stalkings||Various roles||2 episodes|
|1996||Night Stand with Dick Dietrick||Jamie||Episode: "Getting Even"|
|1996||Land's End||Kay||Episode: "Who's Killing Cole Porter?"|
|2000||18 Wheels of Justice||Marta||Episode: "Revelation"|
|2001||Black Scorpion||Dr. Sarah Bellum / Mindbender||Episode: "Virtual Vice"|
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