Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations is one of the hottest books of 2013. Author Peter Evans – who died last year – collaborated with the star on a planned memoir in 1989. Unfortunately, Ava abandoned the project – possibly at the behest of her ex-husband, Frank Sinatra.
A revised autobiography, written with a different author, was published after Ava’s death in 1990. But many thought it too sanitised, and so Evans finally decided to revisit his time with Ava.
The book includes an interesting quote from Ava; about stars, image and truth, with reference to Marilyn:
“I know a lot of men fantasise about me; that’s how Hollywood gossip becomes Hollywood history. Someday someone is going to say, ‘All the lies ever told about Ava Gardner,’ and the truth about me, just like poor, maligned Marilyn, will disappear like names on old tombstones. I know I’m not defending a spotless reputation. Hell, it’s too late for that. Scratching one name off my dance card won’t mean a row of beans in the final tally. It’s just that I like to keep the books straight while I’m still around and sufficiently sober and compos mentis to do it.”
Evans also knew Marilyn, and spoke with her in 1961, shortly after her divorce from Arthur Miller. He wrote about that conversation in a 2010 article for the Daily Mail.
Ava was a feisty character, and in many ways, quite different to Marilyn. But their lives also had striking parallels, which I explored in an article for my own website last year. You can read it here.