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Peter Evans, a journalist and writer, thought he was being Punk’d when Ava Gardner asked him to write her memoirs in 1988, but it turned out to be all too true. Truth be told, I enjoyed Ava Gardner: The Secret Confessions a great deal.

I’m guessing what she was looking for was another adoring man to fall in love with her, but what she got was a man who couldn’t help but see Gardner purely as a sexual creature and purely in relation to the men in her life.

Her housekeeper, Carmen Vargas, met me and led the way to the drawing room.“I think the most vulgar thing about Hollywood is the way it believes its own gossip,” Ava told me that day. “And I’m kinda sentimental about the jewels,” she added. He needed the money badly, but he told them to get lost.

, my favorite story from the book is fairly chaste, revealing nothing about Mickey Rooney’s libido or Frank Sinatra’s penis. “I stopped auditioning a long time ago, honey.” Desperate to live up to her image as “the world’s most beautiful animal,” Gardner called in her favorite cinematographer Jack Cardiff, who rearranged the lamps in her living room, placed a key light above her chair, and placed a shadow over the half of her face that had been frozen by a recent stroke. Evans never digs deeply into Gardner’s stunning career, nor into her relationships with other women.

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”“Of course,” I said.“I’ll tell you when the meter starts,” she said. I tried not to stare, but she must have guessed my thoughts. You have to remember Mickey was bigger than Gable in those days. ,” I said.“He’s never written memoirs,” she said.“Maybe he’s never had to,” I said, reminding her of her present difficulties.“You’re not listening to me, baby. I don’t know where those stories came from that the Mafia was taking care of him. But the fucking so-called Family was nowhere to be seen when he needed them.(“I was the star in the ascendancy and he was on his ass.”) Left, Ava two years later., Photographs: left, © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis; right, by Murray Garrett/Getty Images In the first week of January 1988, Ava Gardner asked me to ghost her memoirs. I don’t want to upset Frank.” There was a small silence, then a brief husky laugh.“Fuck Frank,” she said with a faint southern drawl. Mickey was playing her, complete with false eyelashes, false boobs, his mouth smothered with lipstick.“It was my first day in Hollywood. Since I had never met Ava Gardner, the call, late on a Sunday evening, was clearly a hoax. I was being hauled around the sets to be photographed with the stars. Her on-again, off-again ghost, Peter Evans, died before completing the book (Gardner herself died in 1990).The memoir was finally pulled together by Ed Victor, Evans’ resourceful agent.