Posts Tagged ‘howard hughes’

Ava Gardner’s deathbed confessions reveal stories of booze, sex and stardom

Friday, July 4th, 2014


Ava Gardner’s deathbed confessions reveal stories of booze, sex and stardom





By Maureen Callahan
New York Post


She was broke and alone and usually drunk, a one-time Hollywood goddess who had two choices: “I either write the book or sell the jewels,” she said. “And I’m kinda sentimental about the jewels.”


And so, in January 1988, Ava Gardner, ravaged by booze and cigarettes and a recent stroke, called British journalist Peter Evans and asked him to ghostwrite her memoirs. What followed were the extended deathbed confessions of a legend, compiled for the first time in Evans’ last book, “Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations.”


Among the shocking revelations: first husband Mickey Rooney was such a womanizer that he cheated on Ava, then considered the most beautiful woman in the world, in their marital bed ­while she was in the hospital recovering from an appendectomy.





“He went through the ladies like a hot knife through fudge,” she said, adding that her best friend Lana Turner ­ who’d slept with Rooney first ­ called him “Andy Hard-On.”


Gardner went on to marry bandleader Artie Shaw ­ “another kind of bully; he was always putting me down” ­ and then, most famously, Frank Sinatra, who left his wife for her.


While seeing Sinatra, Gardner also had an affair with the married Robert Mitchum. “I was crazy about him,” she said. When she told Mitchum that she was also seeing Sinatra, he ended things. “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. She’d grown up poor and uneducated, yet her mother always knew that Ava had what it took to be a movie star. So did she.


“I wasn’t dumb,” Gardner said. “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. “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. On her first day on the lot, she met Rooney, the 5-foot-2 star of the wholesome “Andy Hardy” series.


“I wanted to f–k you the moment I saw you,” he told her. Gardner was 18 and innocent. “I was shocked,” she said. “I still didn’t know he was the biggest wolf on the lot . . . 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. “I caught on very quickly,” she said.


After Rooney came Howard Hughes. “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. “Howard wouldn’t piss on a black man to put him out if he was on fire,” she said.





Then, in 1945, she married Shaw ­ who’d also left his wife for her. But now Gardner was smoking three packs of Winstons a day and getting drunk constantly; she felt so intellectually insecure around her new husband that she finally took an IQ test.


“He had me convinced that I was completely stupid,” Gardner said. “I didn’t have an enormous IQ, but I did have a high one.”


One week after their first anniversary, Shaw dumped her for another woman.


“The bastard broke my heart,” she said, and throughout her life she picked the wrong men. ­ including George C. Scott, who Gardner said would often drunkenly “beat the s–t out of me.”


In 1951 she married Sinatra, who she later called the love of her life. Their relationship was famously tempestuous, and her best friend Turner ­ who’d also had affairs with Shaw and Sinatra ­ begged Gardner not to go through with it: “I’ve been there, honey,’ she told me. ‘Don’t do it!’ I should have listened to her.”





Gardner had two abortions during her marriage to Sinatra, and a courtship that began with “fighting all the time, boozing and fighting,” ended the same way. They divorced in 1957, but remained close for the rest of their lives, and when Gardner pulled out of completing her memoirs, Evans suspected that Sinatra gave her the money she would have gotten for the book.


Her decision wasn’t a complete surprise to Evans; she would later say that when she was “pushing clouds around,” he could publish their book.


She died in 1990, at 67, from pneumonia.




75 years ago today in Hollywood

Friday, April 1st, 2011


Around and About in Hollywood




By Read Kendall
Los Angeles Times
April 1, 1936


That Frances Drake-Howard Hughes romance seems to be getting to the serious stage.


The Texas millionaire appears to be smitten by the little brunette screen actress. Hughes is now in New York waiting for favorable weather to try for another transcontinental air record and even though they are separated by some 3,000 miles, Miss Drake isn’t forgotten.


Hughes calls her every night on the telephone and talks for half an hour. In addition he sends plenty of telegrams.



Hollywood is going to have another set of twins if a predicition made yesterday by a doctor proves correct.


Within a short time the stork is scheduled to pay a visit to Alan Dinehart and Mozelle Brittone and her physician says it will be twins. Twins were born to the Bing Crosbys and the Richard Dixes.



It begins to look like the Lyle Talbot-Thelma White romance will result in an engagement.



A hobby started twenty years ago proved to be worth lots of money to Douglass Dumbrille. Yesterday he was rummaging through some things at his home when he came across a collection of Canadian and British Dominion stamps which he started as a child.


A prominent philatelist appraised the collection and said it was worth $4,000.



Now that she has completed her last R-K-O picture, The Witness Chair, Ann Harding is closing her business affairs to go to England to make a picture. She will take her daughter Jane with her. The will be absent for several months.



Seventeen orphan kiddies whose ages range from three months to seventeen years, have been “adopted” by a group of writers from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The children live in the San Fernando Valley and recently lost their mother and father.


The writers who are watching out for the welfare of the brood are, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allen Woolf, Albert Hackett, Gladys Hurlburt and Maxine Watkins.



Something of Warren William’s past bobbed up yesterday when Miss A. M. McMullin, his high school teacher from Minnesota, visited him at the Warner studio. Miss McMullin said that William was a brilliant scholar and always took a leading part in the school plays.



Jean Harlow isn’t sorry that she changed her hair from platinum blond to light brown. This summer she will be able to wear colors and her wardrobe will contain a number of gowns of red, her favorite hue.


Yesterday Miss Harlow started out on a shopping tour for her summer garments, favoring pastel shades. Heretofore she has always worn white on account of her platinum tresses.



Ross Alexander is the latest member of the film colony to join the back-to-the-soil movement. He is moving from his Hollywood home to a ten-acre ranch in the San Fernando Valley near Encino, taking with him his goats, dogs, ducks, chickens and other pets.


In Encino he will have such celebrated neighbors as Al Jolson and Ruby Keeler, Leslie Fenton and Ann Dvorak, Edward Everett Horton, Barbara MacLane, Louise Fazenda and others.



Heather Angel’s mother is visiting from England… Virginia Bruce is learning to play the organ… Walter Abel lost his good luck penny on the set at M-G-M and a few minutes later he stumbled over a light cable and sprained an ankle… Errol Flynn and Lily Damita dining at Sardi’sMadge Evans left with her mother to see the New York shows… Carole Lombard dining alone at the Brown DerbyBruce Cabot is taking a group of friends on a deep sea fishing expedition… William Boyd and Dorothy Sebastian are moving into their beach home at Malibu for the summer… Marlene Dietrich and Willis Goldbeck at the Troc… Ben Bard is opening his new playhouse on April 21… Cy Bartlett and Nancy Carroll dined at Levy’s Tavern and then went out to the CasanovaGuinn (Big Boy) Williams received a scrapbook from a fan containing clipping dating back to his first appearance on the screen with Will Rogers in 1921… Claire Trevor is visiting Hoover DamRandy Scott, Roscoe Karns, Frank Forest and Benny Baker take daily workouts in the Paramount gymnasium, a barn-like building in which Cecil B. De Mille made his first picture, The Squaw Man.



Jane Russell Obituary

Monday, February 28th, 2011


Jane Russell dies at 89; screen siren had sensational debut in ‘The Outlaw’



Her provocative performance in the 1943 Howard Hughes film — and the publicity shots posing her in a low-cut blouse while reclined on a stack of hay bales — marked a turning point in moviedom sexuality. She became a bona fide star and a favorite pinup girl of soldiers during World War II


By Claudia Luther
Special to the Los Angeles Times
March 1, 2011


Jane Russell, the dark-haired siren whose sensational debut in the 1943 film “The Outlaw” inspired producer Howard Hughes to challenge the power and strict morality of Hollywood’s production code, died Monday at her home in Santa Maria, Calif. She was 89.


Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Jane Russell



Land around Hollywood Sign saved!

Monday, April 26th, 2010


Hugh Hefner is final donor, land around Hollywood Sign saved!



April 26, 2010


The Trust for Public Land (TPL) today announced it has raised enough money to buy and protect the 138 acres behind the world-famous Hollywood Sign, as Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner stepped forward to close the gap with a $900,000 donation toward the $12.5 million needed.


“Today, we have the Hollywood ending we hoped for and now Cahuenga Peak will be forever protected by adding it to Griffith Park,” said Will Rogers, TPL President. “We want to thank the thousands of donors worldwide who so generously helped us, and we owe a particular thanks to Hugh Hefner, who stepped forward at the end to close the final gap.”


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, an early supporter of the effort, said, “Of all the iconic landmarks in the world, the Hollywood Sign is truly one of the most recognizable symbols of the California dream and land of opportunity. It called to me when I left Austria and made my way to the U.S., with a few dollars in my pocket and the dream of becoming an actor. I am proud we were able to come together and create a public-private partnership to protect this historic symbol that will continue to welcome dreamers, artists and Austrian bodybuilders for generations to come.”


“This is a great day for all of us,” said Los Angeles Council Member Tom LaBonge. “I have climbed Mt. Hollywood every morning for over 30 years and look forward to hiking Cahuenga Peak with anyone who wants to join me. This would not have happened without The Trust for Public Land, the Hollywood Sign Trust and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. And a very special thanks to a man who, like me, loves nature, loves people and provided great strength to bring us to this point, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.”


Hefner’s gift capped a year-long effort, which began with $1 million gifts each from The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and Aileen Getty. At the original April 14 deadline, TPL still had $1.5 million to raise. TPL received a fundraising extension to April 30, and The Tiffany Foundation and Ms. Getty stepped forward again with a $500,000 matching grant, which TPL would receive if the remaining $1 million was raised. Hefner’s gift closed that final gap and enabled TPL to realize the Tiffany and Getty challenge funds.


“My childhood dreams and fantasies came from the movies, and the images created in Hollywood had a major influence on my life and Playboy,” said Playboy founder Hugh M. Hefner. “As I’ve said before, the Hollywood sign is Hollywood’s Eiffel Tower and I am pleased to help preserve such an important cultural landmark.”


Chris Baumgart, Chair of the Hollywood Sign Trust, said, “The Sign you see today exists because Hugh Hefner raised the money in 1978 to re-build it. Now, 32 years later, the Sign’s number 1 fan has come forward again with the closing gift to ‘Save the Peak’ and thus the view of Mt. Lee and the Hollywood Sign. It is a view that is recognized around the world as the icon of the entertainment industry and the postcard of the Southern California lifestyle. The Hollywood Sign Trust and admirers from around the world thank Tom LaBonge for believing and not giving up, and Hugh Hefner for carrying our efforts across the finish line.”


“I thank Hugh Hefner and Aileen Getty for their critical contributions, along with everyone whose generous spirit moved them to join the campaign to save one of America’s most famous urban spaces,” said Michael J. Kowalski, chairman and CEO of Tiffany & Co. “The threat to its existence underscores the need for partnerships like ours with TPL who can work together to protect our cultural assets for future generations.”


Ms. Getty, a long-time Hollywood resident, said, “I’m proud to support TPL’s efforts in conserving this magical place. With all of the needs facing our urban communities today, this successful effort reminds us that we also need beauty, green spaces, trails and parkland to prepare our communities for a healthy, more livable future.”


Joseph T. Edmiston, Executive Director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, said, “The protection of this land is something which will provide an enormous benefit to people in Los Angeles, both now and for generations to come. And it wouldn’t have happened without Gov. Schwarzenegger’s leadership, and with help from TPL. This project has shown a welcome spotlight on the need to protect open lands in Los Angeles.”


John Donnelly, Executive Director of the Wildlife Conservation Board, said, “The permanent protection of Cahuenga Peak is a significant addition to Griffith park that will greatly enhance recreation opportunities for visitors and residents of Los Angeles and enhance wildlife corridors throughout the region.”


Hollywood leaders donated $3.2 million, including major donations from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, CBS Corporation, The Entertainment Industry Foundation, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, the Lucasfilm Foundation, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Steven Spielberg, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Time Warner Inc., and The Walt Disney Company Foundation. Other Hollywood contributors include Creative Artists Agency, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, and Norman Lear.


There was a groundswell of support for the project in Los Angeles, with local residents holding rallies, bake sales, and fund-raising concerts on the Sunset Strip. On Facebook, more than 27,000 supporters have signed up. Viral videos have chronicled the partnership’s efforts.


In April, 2009, TPL signed an option to buy the 138 acres behind, and to the left, of the sign’s “H”, stretching west to Cahuenga Peak. The land was originally bought in 1940 by industrialist Howard Hughes who intended to build a home for his girlfriend, actress Ginger Rogers. But the relationship ended and after Hughes died, his estate sold the property in 2002 to a group of Chicago investors. They put the property on the market two years ago for $22 million. It is zoned to build four luxury homes.


TPL is a national, nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural places. Since 1972, TPL has completed 4,500 projects in 47 states, protecting 2.8 million acres. Visit


Save Cahuenga Peak



Hollywood sign given a reprieve

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010


Hollywood sign supporters get 16 more days to reaise funds to buy nearby land



Preservationists fighting to protect 138-acres of land near the Hollywood sign have been granted a reprieve.


They will have 16 more days to raise the $12.5 million needed to purchase the land from a group of Chicago investors. The deadline for the sale was Wednesday, but the owners agreed to extend it until April 30, according to Los Angeles City Council Member Tom LaBonge.


The owners, Fox River Financial Resources Inc., bought the land from Howard Hughes’ estate in 2002 for $1.7 million. They put it up for sale two years ago. The property is zoned to build four luxury homes.


LaBonge said $11 million has already been raised, and $1.5 million is still needed to purchase land. Two donors stepped forward Wednesday to help the effort.


Philanthropist Aileen Getty and the Tiffany & Co. Foundation said they would donate a $500,000 matching grant if the community raised $1 million. Getty and the Tiffany Foundation each previously donated $1 million to the campaign.


Over the weekend, supporters held a fundraiser at Lake Hollywood Park.


— Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times



‘Spruce Goose’ Hangar For Sale…

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose hangar for sale


Spruce Goose hangar in 2007 (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)


The cavernous space where the mogul built his infamous seaplane is now used as a soundstage for movie and TV shoots. Real estate experts value it at more than $60 million.

By Roger Vincent
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer


August 7, 2008


A chunk of Howard Hughes’ Los Angeles is on the block: the cavernous hangar where the aviation mogul built his infamous Spruce Goose aircraft that flew only once — for about one minute — in 1947.  (click on ‘Continue Reading’ for more)