By the Clarkson Family
Feb. 21, 2003
Lana Clarkson was born in Long Beach, California, on April 5, 1962. From an early age, she loved stories and showing off - reciting nursery rhymes to anyone who would listen when just over a year old. Lana's mother lovingly recalls styling her daughter's hair and playing dress up, with Lana clad in bell bottoms and white go-go boots.
One day, hands on hips, Lana proudly proclaimed: "I'm independent!" When asked what she thought independent meant, she stated, "It means, I want to do it myself!" This would prove to be Lana's motto throughout life.
The Clarkson family moved to San Francisco in 1967, then to Cloverdale, California, in the early 70's. Living out in the country, Lana fell in love with horses and was given a roan mare named Breeze for her 10th birthday. Being naturally athletic and graceful, she quickly became proficient at both English and Western riding. Riding would be one of a number of activities at which Lana would excel.
Lana attended Cloverdale High School, where she played basketball for the school team. When her family moved from Sonoma County to Napa Valley, Lana attended PUC Prep School. At age 16, Lana was already one of the tallest in her having grown an amazing five inches in one year. Becoming a fashion model was soon one of Lana's many aspirations.
During the Christmas season of 1978, the Clarkson family moved to Los Angeles. Lana hit the ground running, quickly landing bit parts in film and television. Her modeling career also took off, and Lana found herself traveling around the United States and Europe working on high fashion photo shoots. Other projects took Lana to Japan, Italy, Argentina, Switzerland, France, and Mexico. Being a quick study, Lana learned to speak both Spanish and Italian quite well. Lana fit right into the scene at the Cannes Film Festival, which she attended several times during the 80's and 90's.
Lana Clarkson's early television appearances read like a pop culture checklist: "CHiPs," "Happy Days," "The Love Boat," "Hill Street Blues," "Laverne and Shirley," and "Fantasy Island." Lana had a recurring part on "Fantasy Island" as one of the girls that placed leis over the heads of each show's featured guests. Her later work on television included guest spots on "Who's the Boss," "Night Court," "Wings," "Knight Rider," "The Jefferson's," "Three's Company," "The A-Team," "Riptide," "Silk Stockings," "Black Scorpion," and many other popular shows. Lana also found success working on television commercials, with a client list that included Mercedes Benz, Nike, Anheiser Busch, Playtex Bras, KMART, and Mattel.
At eighteen Lana acquired her SAG card on the movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" - her first speaking role in a feature film. Her introductory lead role was in the movie "Blind Date," filmed in Greece in 1982 and starring Kirstie Alley. Lana then landed a role in Roger Corman's "Deathstalker." While not a cinema masterpiece, Lana's mother recalls that Lana did make an impression on a Los Angeles Times film critic who stated, "one bright spot … a newcomer, Lana Clarkson."
It was this star-quality that led to Lana being offered the title role in Roger Corman's next film, the cult c "Barbarian Queen." While filming in Argentina, Lana quickly picked up on complicated sword fighting and became what Roger Corman called "the original Xena." Her work on this film, the sequel "Barbarian Queen 2," and other projects under Roger Corman, was what Lana often described as "the boot camp of filmmaking." Lana's filmography also includes noted films such as "Scarface" and "My Favorite Year."
Lana's larger than life personality and striking beauty inspired a large fan following, further cemented by her work in John Landis' "Amazon Women on the Moon." She was always a favorite at comic book conventions, where she happily signed autographs and was known to be friendly and accessible.
While physically tall, Lana's personality could perhaps be described as gigantic. With a ready smile and quick wit, Lana was friendly, outgoing, spiritual, kind, genuine; in short, Lana was a charming and charismatically captivating woman. Those who knew her well maintain that her ability to make people laugh was perhaps one of her most endearing traits.
Lana was close to her family and was always there when needed. She made a point to check in with family and loved ones near and far on a regular basis, "just because." Lunching with her mother was always a highlight in Lana's schedule.
Lana lived on the canals in Venice, California, for the last several years, where she adopted a stray black cat that she christened "Midnight." Lana and her brother took great pride in transforming Lana's canal front house into a homey cottage. In the rare times when she was not working, Lana enjoyed the life of a California native, walking along the beach, riding her bike, and going to the gym and the movies with her sister.
Lana was a consistently working actress, which as many know, is no small feat in Hollywood. Those that worked with Lana have said that her work ethic was not only inspirational, but made her a joy to work with. Not only did Lana take each and every role she played seriously, she also excelled at the art of auditioning. Lana was well known for throwing herself into any character that she was auditioning for, going so far as to dress the part, capturing even the most minute details. Always the professional, Lana was famous for her prompt follow up with a card or a note that expressed her sincerest appreciation for anything from an audition to an offer for a film role.
In 2001, she decided to change gears a little and worked very hard to bring her versatility as a performer to the public eye. During this time, Lana developed, wrote, produced, and directed a showcase reel entitled "Lana Unleashed," to steer her career in a new direction. Lana wanted to show the world that she was not just a pretty face, but also a talented actress with the ability to create comedic characters and bring them to life. Lana took these capabilities and applied them to the stand-up comedy genre, which was a perfectly natural direction for her considering that her stand-up debut had been on "Thicke of the Night" in the early 80's. As part of her pro-active approach to this new chapter in her career, Lana also put together a website and began her own production company. She embraced this work, as she did most everything in her life, with zeal, passion, a studious demeanor, and a tenacity that would seem to ensure her success.
Just over a year ago, Lana suffered a fall while dancing with children at a Christmas party, breaking both of her wrists. Surgery was performed on both wrists on Christmas Day, 2001. Much of 2002 was spent in recovery and rehabilitation from these injuries, and though described by some as "hard times," they were quite the opposite. Lana continued to be optimistic and light-hearted. She took the time to organize her affairs and plan for the future. In addition to physical therapy, Lana did her best to keep in shape in both body and mind by frequenting the gym and practicing yoga. She also took time to study, read, write, and attend s for acting, producing, and script and play writing. This time of adversity also strengthened and re-affirmed Lana's commitment to her spiritual beliefs, and true to character, she made a concerted effort to continue to do positive things for others.
Family, friends, fans, and those who knew her in passing will remember Lana as simply incredible. Her infectious charm, statuesque beauty, and real-world spirituality cannot be described by words alone. We will all miss you Lana, may you be at peace.