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Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  696 ratings  ·  144 reviews
“I EITHER WRITE THE BOOK OR SELL THE JEWELS,” Ava Gardner told her coauthor, Peter Evans, “and I’m kinda sentimental about the jewels.” So began the collaboration that led to this remarkably candid, wickedly sardonic memoir.

Ava Gardner was one of Hollywood’s great stars during the 1940s and 1950s, an Oscar-nominated leading lady who co-starred with Clark Gable, Burt Lanca
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 2nd 2013 by Simon & Schuster
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When I was about 18 or 19 I had the (perhaps not-too-well-thought-out)idea of taking the train up to London and walking through Kensington Gardens in the hope of catching a glimpse of Ava Gardner as she walked her corgi, Morgan. Being rather shy at the time I would have been too nervous even to say hello, whatever I thought her reaction might have been. I was just a fan, who couldn't believe that she only lived 35 miles away from my home in Kent. Of course I didn't do it, but it did become a bit ...more
Rikki Ward
I really loved this book! As a long time fan of classic movies, reading about film stars from way back when is a lot of fun for me. Sometimes I come across memoirs that are bland, self-righteous, and basically a huge disappointment but Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations delivered. Ava Gardner is down-to-earth, humorous, outspoken, and bawdy. She is very open throughout the entire book and tells all the juicy stories about her marriages, affairs, and movies that I as a fan wanted to hear--what ...more
The highlight of actor Ben Gazzara's memoir was his mention that no woman ever drove men crazy like Ava Gardner. 3 marriages to Mickey Rooney (at the height of his popularity, so she was effectively hidden from his female fans), bandleader Artie Shaw, and of course Frank Sinatra (who was at the low point of his career and relied on Ava financially). Also linked to Howard Hughes, George C Scott (brutal when drunk), bullfighters, etc. The influence of MGM studio head Louis B Mayer cannot be overst ...more
JoAnne Pulcino

Peter Evans

If you are a fan of the golden age of movies and the fascinating personalities of the era, this will not appear as new material. Mr. Evans conversations with The Most Beautiful Animal in the world are very repetitive, and there are whole chapters of her life he didn't even touch on. Ava Gardner was her own woman and lived a life most of us can only imagine. Yes, she cursed, yes, she spoke her mind and yes she was a sex symbol who lived it to the h
Gary Schroeder
This is not your ordinary, straight-up Hollywood star bio. Rather, it’s an account of the making of a Hollywood star bio...or at least the attempted making of one, for it was never completed. All that remains of Peter Evan’s efforts to write a candid biography of Ava Gardner are the transcripts of his taped mid-1980s conversations with her. It’s this source material that forms the backbone of “The Secret Conversations.”

The conversations between Gardner and Evans, while containing lots of graphic

... not enough to be in love . . .
- Suzanne Vega, Frank and Ava, Beauty and Crime.

Ava Gardner's legend and story is not advanced or degraded with this book. A collection of transcriptions and anecdotal telling of conversations between author Peter Evans and AG about two years prior to Garner's death this book doesn't go anywhere. Part of the reason is that Evans was hired to 'ghost' her memoirs and then she pulled the plug. AG went on to write another memoir prior to her death that was publish

In the 1940's and 1950's Ava Gardner was the epitome of Hollywood glamour. Volatile marriages to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra kept her in the gossip columns and there have been many books written about her life.

This was an interesting take on a biography. Not so much a traditional memoir as it is the story of the relationship between the author and the actress trying to write it down. It's not real heavy on gossip so those looking for juicy tidbits may be a bit disappointed but it
A very good book regarding Ava Gardner and her life in and around Hollyweird. I didn't know too much about her because she was " before my time " other than the fact that she was a major star in Hollywood. People, like me think that all or most celebrities i.e. - movie stars, musicians, artists, sport players et al live glamorous and successful lives but for the most part this ain't true. A lot of them live depressing lives once their star begins to fade, when their career is at it's apex and go ...more
Joy H.
Added 10/14/13.
I listened to this book in August or September, 2013.
It's a juicy autobiography of the actress, Ava Gardner. Compelling!
A fascinating but incomplete account of Ava Gardner's life. The author attempted to ghost write Ava's autobiography in the final years of her life. This book is as much his story of trying to get a coherent history out of her as it is her story of coming to Hollywood. Her story ends here with Frank Sinatra, who probably interfered with her continuation with the author, who she discovered has once been sued in the 50s by Sinatra for libel. But even before Sinatra probably paid her off, she was ti ...more
April Kane
I have recently finished Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations which I thought was going to be a biography but it was more about the construction of the book – mostly focusing on the interplay between the subject and the writer. There is way too much Peter Evans in this book –not enough Ava.

The book covers a series of interviews that Ava did in the late 1980s in preparation for a ghostwritten biography. An epilogue at the end tells the reader that that Evans’ biography of Ava was never finished;
Laurel Beth
"Grabtown Girl" - lil boogie's diary - April 18, 2006.

On my way to South Carolina I stop in Smithfield, N.C. to go to the Ava Gardner museum. I pull Grannie Mae's pearls out of my bag to infuse the moment with requisite glamour, but I drank too much Diet Coke and pulled through on the one-hitter too many times on the way and my hands shake. I am standing in front of this ghost theatre on a DOA Main Street USA and the miniature octogenarian museum patron ogles me through the window. I can tell sh
Ava Gardner was one foxy broad, with a foul mouth and a good sense of humor. These conversations with Peter Evans, meant to result in a ghostwritten autobiography before she dropped him, are often amusing and sometimes illuminating. Unfortunately, there is too much repetition and too much of Evans himself to make this a satisfying read. And what's with his obsession with Frank Sinatra's penis?!
This is fun. And I had stressful things happening, so I needed something light. This did kind of read like a stack of People magazines, lots of gossip about Ava and her husbands, Mickey Rooney ("Andy Hard-On"), Artie Shaw (a "sadistic bastard"), and of course, Frank Sinatra (about whom Ava might have said something like, "Frank's only 120 pounds, but 110 pounds of it is c**k.") Ava was a mouthy, impetuous broad with a forthright enjoyment of sex that was refreshing to read about, but I felt kind ...more
Ellis Katz
Not exactly, but one learns a great deal about Ava Garner. It is more the story of Peter Evans attempt to write a biography of Ava. Based on interviews/conversations, Ava tells of her marriages with Mickey Rooney and Artie Shaw, as well as her much publicized affair with Howard hughes. The book is brought to an abrupt end before we learn much about her life with Frank Sinatra. Evans died of a heart attack just before he was about to finish the book. Some claim that the information on Sinatra was ...more
This isn't what I expected. I thought I had picked up a biography- but instead it's a narrative of the author's conversations with Ms Gardner and his insights into how to console her and to get her to open up more. Once I got over the idea that it was not a typical biography, I enjoyed listening in on their conversations and particularly Evans' thoughts on how he was going to write the book. It's a shame that Evans died before the book could be completed. Thanks to Evans' wife for putting togeth ...more
Abdi Nazemian
Despite all the salacious stories included in Ava Gardner: The Secret Confessions, my favorite story from the book is fairly chaste, revealing nothing about Mickey Rooney’s libido or Frank Sinatra’s penis. The story involves an aged Gardner meeting Dick Snyder, the CEO of Simon & Schuster, the publishing company planning on publishing her memoirs. “Didn’t anyone tell you?” she objects. “I stopped auditioning a long time ago, honey.” Desperate to live up to her image as “the world’s most beau ...more
This was the no-holds-barred autobiography Ava Gardner planned to write with Peter Evans. It's thought that Frank Sinatra put a stop to it. A more toned-down memoir was completed with another writer, and published after Ava's death. This book records Evans' conversations with Ava, and some of the finished chapters. There aren't any new revelations here, but what makes it enjoyable is Ava's witty, sometimes outrageous commentary on her life and times.
Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations is about as avant-garde as biographies get: Gardner reminisces about her past in a drunken, post-stroke attack haze via telephone to writer Peter Evans with topics ranging from her childhood to the Unholy Trinity of Husbands she married: Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and Frank Sinatra. Gardner continuously procrastinates over how much she wants to reveal about all three men, which goes on for over 200 pages.

Her affair with Howard Hughes goes into a fair amount
Linda Marie Marsh
Let's get it straight folks. This is not the proverbial biography of Ava Gardner as some reviewers were complaining about, it states on the cover the book consists of CONVERSATIONS with her. Conversations with the author for the intended book they were co-writing.
After spending uncountable hours with her in person and on the phone at all hours, she nixed it. Why? Because she wanted to maintain a public image that reality did not fit.
Ava Gardner was a whole hell of a lot of woman. Strong, opin
It is sad that Peter didn't get to finish this book. The first time with Ava or 20 something years later. I am a fan of Ava and it is interesting to read this conversational style memoir. A very human look at a famous movie star at the end of her life. Filled with interesting dishy stories from her life and a more human approach to most biographies. She wanted him to start off with her stroke and recovery which I think would have been interesting but he and his publishers wanted the gossip about ...more
Carol Wakefield
Conversation. Evans. "Please say something salacious, Ava". Ava " ok but then again maybe I don't want this book." Evans " but my publisher wants details". Ava. " forget it". Book published after death of Ava and Evans both. Of the two, Ava, in her choice to reject the work Evans did was the classiest.
I always love dishy books about Hollywood's Golden Age!:-) However, about a third of the book is taken up with Evans' efforts to wrest Gardner's life story out of her. Also a bit repetitious, but still fun (especially if Gardner is your favorite of the Big Three glamor girls: Gardner, Hayworth, & Turner).
Ava Gardner, the Secret Conversations is a newly available title by the glamorous star that covers her rural roots and rise to fame. Gardner actually halted the publication of this book after writing it with co-author Peter Evans, and it’s only now available years after her death.
This book is only for true Ava Gardner fans. I've read Ava: My Story in addition to Ava Gardner "Love is Nothing." I prefer both of those books to The Secret Conversations. If you've never read a book about Ava Gardner I don't recommend starting with this one. The writing is okay and easy to follow but Ava's story in this book is all over the place. If you know nothing about her it can be confusing. Peter Evans doesn't give a lot of background information on Ava besides what Ava told him verball ...more
Imogene (Gene)
Pictures at the end of the book (kindle) were a pleasant surprise. Glamour and celebrity--come with a price.
Would like to see her movies.
Ava Gardner grabs you from the beginning and doesn’t let go. Reading her story really was like being paired with a great dancer. You might not be great yourself but you enjoy the ride. Peter Evans made me want to go out and rent every movie Ava Gardner ever stared in. Their conversations are ones you can’t make up in your dreams. The two of them pull you in and keep you trapped in their little bubble. Peter knew how to deal with Ava in a way that was a delight to read. Ava's life was truly fasci ...more
Laurie Ann Holman
I enjoyed listening to this audio book while working around the house. I wished it would have been read by someone else because when he spoke in Ava's voice it usually came off as though he was mocking her. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the stories and learning more about her. Nothing was sugar coated, and she didn't come off smelling like a rose at all. I think the book could have be improved by someone else's perspective thrown in here and there. I must admit that I was looking forward to it being ov ...more
Laura Bradley
This was not a book I couldn't put down - it's a book I enjoyed in doses. Ava Gardner, admittedly, has fascinated me ever since I saw her in Mogambo. She's bewitching, both on screen and in this book, which is the only honest account of her life, largely in her words. Anyone who loves Gardner will probably love the book, because her wit and charisma fill every page. At times it is a bit repetitive, but it's an absolute gem for anyone who loves Ava Gardner, or just enjoys a little old Hollywood g ...more
Warren-Newport Public Library
One of Hollywood’s greatest stars in the 40’s and 50’s, Oscar nominated leading lady who worked with Hollywood’s most handsome leading men, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Burt Lancaster just to name a few. Soon after arriving in Hollywood she caught the eye of Mickey Rooney. Married only a year, Ava indicated Rooney had a tendency to be a womanizer. She also dated Howard Hughes but said she never loved him. Married eight times, her third husband was Frank Sinatra. They had a love/hate relationshi ...more
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“He always called me Daughter. It was to distinguish me from his sister Ava. I loved being called Daughter. It sounded so possessive, and to be possessed when you are a child is just a wonderful feeling. It makes you feel safe. It makes you feel loved.” 5 likes
“I either write the books or sell the jewels , and I'm kinda sentimental about the jewels.” 4 likes
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