In 1988, Ava Gardner sat down with British author Peter Evans to write a Hollywood memoir. But Evans quickly discovered that Ava was a hopeless alcoholic who, when drunk, told juicy tinsel town tales. But when Ava sobered up, she ordered Evans not to use any of “the good” material.
Ava knew where all the bodies were buried. But too many of her Hollywood crowd were still alive. Settling scores would not settle anything for Ava. The aging star was in desperate need of money. In the end, Ava abandoned the project. Rumor says that Frank Sinatra paid Ava not to write the book.
Ava died just two years later. Evans went to his grave with his Ava Gardner book unpublished. But his notes have finally seen the light of day as Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations. Ava was a natural storyteller with a great eye for the telling detail. Her rich store of memories could have made for an invaluable piece of Hollywood history. However, what remains of those fragmented sessions is compelling and compulsively readable.
In 1988, only two years before her death, Ava Gardner, living in semi-seclusion in London, unable to get work, and running dangerously low on funds, asked the late British author Peter Evans to ghostwrite her autobiography.
Deadpanned Gardner: “I either write the book or sell the jewels, and I’m kinda sentimental about the jewels.”
Only now, years after Ava and Evans’ death, has this frank memoir been published. Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations is a sad and intimate book about the fate of a great Hollywood star. Born poor in rural North Carolina, Ava was given a Hollywood screen test thanks to a radiantly innocent photo of 18 year-old Ava displayed in a shop window.
After meeting with Ava in her London flat, Evans realized that the aging star was deeply conflicted about publishing an honest memoir. He also realized that she was a hopeless drunk. But the lure of working with one of Hollywood’s legendary stars trounced the author’s common sense. Already, in the preliminary stages, Gardner, drunk, depressed, and lonely, was calling Evans in the middle of the night, and rambling on, quite candidly, about the glorious, yet often sordid past. Evans, a solid, if sleep-deprived pro, faithfully recorded her reminiscences in a notebook he parked on his night stand.
Said Ava about her great rival, Elizabeth Taylor: “She was pretty. I was beautiful.”