Niagara Gazette

Columns

October 27, 2013

SINGER: When memories matter

Niagara Gazette — Maybe unique people like Ava Gardner always emanate from unpromising circumstances. As with most generalizations, that’s not entirely true. Take Hollywood nepotism: it’s become a plague, but certain luminaries such as Michael Douglas, Liza Minnelli or Angelina Jolie deserve recognition for what they’ve done as their own people. Many others who used parental connections on the way up inspire less.

This “who do you know?” nepotism certainly didn’t spring Gardner to stardom — as many know, she came from an extremely poor, humiliating farm background in North Carolina. But she had two loving, if worn-down parents, and Irish-Scottish beauty and verve, and that verve fills the latest, most intriguing book on or by her, Peter Evans and Ava Gardner, “Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations” (2013), initially scuttled by Sinatra, but finally emerging long after her 1990 death and just after Evans’. 

The book is marvelously vulnerable, as a stroke-afflicted, booze-swilling, but still incredible Gardner weaves from past to present and back in her London flat near the end of the ‘80s, constantly doubting the utility of a projected, co-written memoir, and wanting over and over to trash it. Yet thanks to Evans’ patience with one of Hollywood’s great femme fatales, what a gem finally appeared! The conversational interplay of the two — Yank-Brit sparks flying all the way — is what makes the book, as does its non-linear, almost jazzy quality, befitting a former spouse of Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra.

But most significant is the fact that neither walking-on-eggshells Evans nor chain-smoking, imbibing, up and down Ava were ever quite sure — it’s the book on the way to a book which works well here, via consistently compelling riffing about both her storied past and late ‘80s sunset. Needing much reassurance, even spoiling, Ava was hardly more of an enfant terrible than the great Artie or Frank, not to mention first husband Mickey Rooney, a gambling, drinking, peppery whirligig, who squired this gorgeous 18-year-old new to Hollywood around (to Chasen’s, Ciro’s et al.), and thence, in her case reluctantly, to the altar.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • NIA Confer, Bob mug new CONFER: It's time the U.S. stopped giving aid to Israel When you see some of the atrocities that Israel has committed in Gaza, including last week's bombing of a United Nations school that was being used as a civilian emergency shelter, you should really wonder why we count them as an ally and why we devote so much of our financial and political resources to the scoundrels.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Higgs, Norma mug HIGGS: A cupcake gets the Niagara Beautification Commission spotlight Not a cupcake per se, but a cute shop in LaSalle operated by a "sweet" lady who is a real dynamo when it comes to running a business.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Glynn, Don mug [Duplicate] GLYNN: A key factor in luring the convention A natural wonder in the nation's oldest state park isn't the lone factor for selecting Niagara Falls as a convention site.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • SINGER: Regional poetry and sad realities If that isn't (or wasn't) poetry, I don't know what is! I'm referring to the self-satisfied, sluggish trot of ice chunks emanating from Lake Erie in early May 2014 -- sauntering, it felt, along the lovely Niagara.

    July 27, 2014

  • NIA Smith, Doug and Polly LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Quest for an appointment comes up short We're rolling up our sleeves for Quest. The Big Mac of blood tests, the Tops of tourniquets, the Sears of screenings, opens on our Island at Monday's crack of dawn.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Davis, Vincent mug VINCENT DAVIS: Pledge your allegiance to the Slurpee, America's treat By now you must be aware that it is, in fact, summer. And since summer is a season not characterized by any obvious weather events (sometimes it's hot for days in a row, sometimes you get a bunch of rainy days and chilly nights) but instead activities, I'd like to bring attention to an underrated staple of summer sun enjoyment: Consuming the brain freeze-inducing snack classic, the Slurpee.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Hamilton, Ken mug HAMILTON: Popeye's '7-Minute' guide to educating southerners -- and me! Writer Mark Twain said that when he 14, his father was so ignorant that he could hardly stand to have the old man around. But upon turning 21, Twain said that he was astonished by how much his father had learned in just seven years.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA DeLuca, Michele mug DELUCA: Wegmans call warns of bad fruit I was humming to myself the other day, getting ready for work on a lovely summer morning, when I decided to check my messages on the house phone. I hit the play button and heard a message from Wegmans warning me about some fruit that I had bought at their store. As quick as that, a message with the scary potential to change my life or the life of someone I love.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Glynn, Don mug GLYNN: Ortt jumps on drive to repeal the SAFE Act It was a no-brainer for North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt, a Republican candidate for the 62nd Senate District seat, to join the forces to repeal the state's SAFE Act.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Verplank: Turn back the clock at the Porter Cup

    July 24, 2014

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page