Lana Clarkson

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Lana Clarkson
Clarkson in a promotional photo
Lana Jean Clarkson

(1962-04-05)April 5, 1962
DiedFebruary 3, 2003(2003-02-03) (aged 40)
Cause of deathMurder
Occupation(s)Actress, model
Years active1982–2003

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, record producer Phil Spector shot and killed Clarkson inside his home; he was charged with second-degree murder and convicted in 2009.

Early life[edit]

Clarkson was born in Long Beach, California, to Donna and James M. Clarkson and was raised in the hills of Sonoma County, California from a young age. 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 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 an actress and fashion model.[1]


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.[2] 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,[3] beginning with his fantasy film Deathstalker (1983), as a female warrior and love interest to the title character played by Richard Hill.[2] 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.[1]

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.[2]

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.[3]

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,[2] Mattel and Anheuser-Busch. Her television appearances include parts on Night Court, Silk Stalkings, Riptide, Three's Company, Knight Rider[2] 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.[2]

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.[4]

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 as a hostess in early January 2003 at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, California, to make ends meet.[5]


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.[6] 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."[6] Spector later said Clarkson's death was an "accidental suicide" and that she "kissed the gun".[7]

Spector appeared in court charged with the murder of Clarkson in 2007. On September 26, 2007, the trial judge declared mistrial due to a hung jury ten to two for conviction.[8] The prosecution pushed for a retrial and Spector was retried for second-degree murder on October 20, 2008. On April 13, 2009, he was found guilty of murdering Clarkson.[9][5] Spector was sentenced on May 29, 2009, to 19 years to life in state prison.[10] He died in 2021 while serving his sentence.[11]

In February 2012, Donna Clarkson, Lana's mother, 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.[12]


Year Title Role Notes
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
1983 Female Mercenaries
1984 Blind Date Rachel
1985 Barbarian Queen Amethea
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
1997 Retroactive Stunt performer
2000 Little Man on Campus Joyce Short
2001 March Dr. Ellen Taylor (final film role)
Year Title Role Notes
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"


  1. ^ a b "Lana Clarkson". Lana Clarkson. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Shooting victim was B-movie actress". BBC News. February 4, 2003. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Briggs, Joe Bob (February 7, 2003). "Lana Clarkson: Requiem for the Barbarian Queen". Slate.
  4. ^ Dunne, Dominick (August 2007). "Legend with a Bullet". Vanity Fair. Retrieved March 6, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Phil Spector convicted of murder". BBC News. April 14, 2009. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Phil Spector: The 'Mad Genius' of Rock'n'Roll". Archived from the original on December 10, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  7. ^ "Killer Phil Spector Jailed For 19 Years". Sky News. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
  8. ^ Archibold, Randal C. (September 27, 2007). "Mistrial Declared in Spector Murder Case". The New York Times. Retrieved September 26, 2007.
  9. ^ Li, David K. (April 13, 2009). "Phil Spector Found Guilty of 2nd Degree Murder in Clarkson Slaying". Retrieved January 24, 2013.
  10. ^ "Phil Spector jailed for 19 years". BBC News. May 29, 2009. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
  11. ^ Cromelin, Richard; Wigglesworth, Alex; Winton, Richard (January 17, 2021). "Phil Spector, music producer convicted of murder, dies at 81 after contracting COVID-19". Obituaries. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 17, 2021. ...Before he was transferred to a hospital, Spector had been an inmate at the California Health Care Facility in Stockton
  12. ^ "Phil Spector murder victim's mother settles civil case". The Guardian. February 4, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2018.

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