Ava Gardner was one of Hollywood's great stars during the 1940s and 1950s, an Oscar-nominated lead-ing lady who co-starred with Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, and Humphrey Bogart, among others. Read more...
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Ava Gardner was one of Hollywood's great stars during the 1940s and 1950s, an Oscar-nominated lead-ing lady who co-starred with Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, and Humphrey Bogart, among others. Her films included Show Boat, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Barefoot Contessa, and On the Beach. But her life off the screen was every bit as fabulous as her film roles.
Born poor in rural North Carolina, Gardner was given a Hollywood tryout thanks to a stunning photo of her displayed in a shop window. Not long after arriving in Hollywood, she caught the eye of Mickey Rooney, then America's #1 box-office draw. Rooney was a womanizer so notorious that even his mother warned Gardner about him. They married, but the marriage lasted only a year ("my shortest husband and my biggest mistake"). Ava then married band leader and clarinetist Artie Shaw, who would eventually marry eight times, but that marriage, too, lasted only about a year ("he was a dominating son of a bitch . . . always putting me down"). She carried on a passionate affair with Howard Hughes but didn't love him, she said. Her third marriage was a tempestuous one to Frank Sinatra ("We were fighting all the time. Fighting and boozing. It was madness. . . . But he was good in the feathers").
Faithfully recording Ava's reminiscences in this book, Peter Evans describes their late-night conver-sations when Ava, having had something to drink and unable to sleep, was at her most candid. So candid, in fact, that when she read her own words, she backed out and halted the book. Only now, years after her death, could this frank and revealing memoir be published.
"If I get into this stuff, oh, honey, have you got something coming," Ava told Evans. Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations is the stunning story of a legendary star's public and private lives.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-04-22
- Reviewer: Staff
Jaw-dropping anecdotes about film legends and the studio system in its heyday make this an irresistible read for Hollywood history buffs. A fiery beauty (1922–1990) who loved to fight (even with the author she hired), Gardner inspired uncanny devotion among colleagues, friends, and lovers. Of the latter, there were many, and even seasoned fans will learn fresh tidbits about ex-husbands Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and Frank Sinatra, as well as her tumultuous relationships with Howard Hughes and George C. Scott. One of the more touching stories is of Gardner, self-conscious after a stroke left her face partially paralyzed, asking a famed cinematographer to set up flattering lighting prior to meeting with a publisher. Journalists will find the book of interest as it makes transparent the prickly process of ghostwriting. Evans (Bardot: Eternal Sex Goddess) shares the difficulty of sequencing the life of a movie star whose memory is failing and who angrily retracts batches of sensitive material that slip out during 3 a.m. phone calls. Gardner is funny and frank, and Evans’s diligence makes the book not only one of the more revealing celebrity autobiographies published recently, but a candid glimpse into the world of a ghostwriter, star handler, and late-night confidante. 8-page b&w insert. Agent: Ed Victor, Ed Victor Literary Agency (July)