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There’s so much media chatter about the sad state of the movie business that I’ve decided to focus on the sad state of the memoir business. One of the hottest summer reads is a showbiz bio that the subject tried to suppress and her ghostwriter never finished.
“He said, ‘Get into a fight with him, and he won’t stop until one of you is dead,’ ” Gardner said.
“He didn’t want to risk it being him.” Gardner was a teenage virgin from Grabtown, NC, when she was discovered by a talent scout in 1941. “I knew that my looks might get me through the studio gates.” She knew she wasn’t a great actress, and didn’t much care: “A lot of my stuff ended up on the cutting-room floor,” she said. “I never loved him,” she said, adding that despite the generosity he showed her, paying for her dying mother’s medical care, he was also a racist.
Later, in her role as Julie La Verne in Show Boat, Ava would have to work to get her accent back.
Howard Hughes was very interested in Ava, showered her in gifts of jewelry, furs, and exotic vacations, and proposed marriage on several occasions.
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As part of her contract with MGM, Ava was given lessons in voice production, elocution, and drama.
Ava worked tirelessly with Gertrude Vogeler, a voice coach assigned to her by MGM, to get rid of her thick North Carolina accent.
She’d grown up poor and uneducated, yet her mother always knew that Ava had what it took to be a movie star. “A lot more should have.” After a screen test, she was signed to a seven-picture deal with MGM, and quickly became sought after by nearly every leading man in Hollywood. He’d screw anything that moved.” After a one-year courtship they wed, and one of Hollywood’s greatest sex symbols was a virgin on her wedding night. “Howard wouldn’t piss on a black man to put him out if he was on fire,” she said.
On her first day on the lot, she met Rooney, the 5-foot-2 star of the wholesome “Andy Hardy” series. “I still didn’t know he was the biggest wolf on the lot . Then, in 1945, she married Shaw — who’d also left his wife for her.
The memoir was finally pulled together by Ed Victor, Evans’ resourceful agent.