How Ava Gardner Two-Timed Her Would-Be Biographers

Ava Gardner Portrait - P 2013
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Ava Gardner Portrait - P 2013

The late Peter Evans' book was excerpted in Vanity Fair, but veteran writer Larry Grobel tells THR he's hard at work on a dishy book of his own, featuring the star's thoughts on the studio system at MGM ("it was white slavery") and her commitment to acting ("I was lazy").

This story first appeared in the June 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Vanity Fair trumpeted a splashy excerpt in its July issue of late author Peter Evans' conversations with Ava Gardner -- they'd embarked on an authorized biography together in January 1988 until she got cold feet and pulled out.

Turns out Gardner was playing the field: Larry Grobel -- a veteran scribe who has done books with Marlon Brando and Al Pacino -- tells THR he, too, spent months interviewing Gardner at her behest, also beginning in January 1988. But he pulled out to finish a tome with John Huston. (The writers seem to have been unaware they were concurrently working with Gardner. A third biographer, Alan Burgess, released his own authorized account, Ava, two years after she died in 1990.) 

PHOTOS: Ava Gardner Trashes Hollywood: Her 10 Best Quotes

Grobel, now shopping his Gardner book 25 years later, crows that he caught the rather reclusive Gardner at her most candid, getting her to open up about everything from the studio system at MGM ("It was white slavery") and her commitment to acting ("I was lazy") to her battle with depression ("I felt like I was living in an earthquake that never stopped quaking").

She also talked about the men in her life, including Howard Hughes ("I couldn't get rid of him"), Mickey Rooney ("He kept on about being made in the image of God -- what a load of crap") and Artie Shaw ("He had a great oral diarrhea").