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2014
Jul 4

CELEBRITY STORIES

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

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By Maureen Callahan
New York Post

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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“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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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“I wasn’t dumb,” Gardner said. “I knew that my looks might get me through the studio gates.”

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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.”

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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.

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“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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.”

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

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“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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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She died in 1990, at 67, from pneumonia.

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mcallahan@nypost.com

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Mickey Rooney’s Grave

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Apr 26th, 2014
2014
Apr 26

CELEBRITY GRAVES

Mickey Rooney’s grave at Hollywood Forever

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R.I.P Mickey

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Mickey Rooney in the 1930 Census

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Apr 20th, 2014
2014
Apr 20

1930 CENSUS

Mickey Rooney in the 1930 Census

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762 N. Hoover Street

Los Angeles, California

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MICKEY ROONEY

1920-1914

Film Actor

Homer Macauley in The Human Comedy (1943)

Rent, $40

No Radio

Census taken on April 3, 1930

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HOUSEHOLD RESIDENTS*

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  1. Nell Yule (head), 31 / divorced / Kansas / Manager / Movie actor
  2. Joseph Yule Jr. (son), 8 / New York / Actor / Screen

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NOTE: Mickey would have actually been 9 years old in April 1930.

This is a private residence. Please DO NOT disturb the occupants.

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* Information includes relationship to head of household, age / place of birth (year of arrival in this country, if applicable) / occupation / industry.

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The preceding text is taken from my book, Celebrities in the 1930 Census (McFarland & Co., Inc., 2008). This directory provides an extensive listing of household information collected for over 2,265 famous or notorious individuals who were alive during the 1930 United States Census. Please note: The above photographs do not appear in the book.

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Mickey Rooney’s Funeral

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Apr 20th, 2014
2014
Apr 20

FUNERALS/MEMORIALS

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Mickey Rooney’s funeral held at Hollywood Forever

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Mickey Rooney’s casket at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

(Family photo / Los Angeles Times April 18, 2014)

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Mickey Rooney Obituary

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Apr 7th, 2014
2014
Apr 7

OBITUARY

Mickey Rooney dies; show-business career spanned a lifetime

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In the ‘Andy Hardy’ films, he was the All-American boy. But Mickey Rooney’s roller-coaster show-business career was marked by an often-turbulent personal life.

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By Valerie J. Nelson
Los Angeles Times
April 6, 2014

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Mickey Rooney, a celebrated child actor who embodied the All-American boy in the “Andy Hardy” films of the 1930s and ’40s and became one of the era’s top box-office draws, has died. He was 93.

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Rooney, whose roller-coaster show-business career was marked by an often-turbulent personal life, died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Police Commander Andrew Smith and the Los Angeles County coroner’s office confirmed his death.

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Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Mickey Rooney

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The Hollywood Hat

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jun 3rd, 2012
2012
Jun 3

FILM HISTORY

The Hollywood Hat: An Autographed Hat Holds the History of Early Hollywood

 

  

By Joe Biltman
Autograph Magazine 

 

“Can I have your autograph?”

 

The streets of Hollywood have teemed with autograph hunters for a century now. Brandishing an autograph book or scrap of paper, these collectors good-naturedly accost stars wherever they find them — on the street, in restaurants, at the supermarket, at gas stations, in elevators, in their cars when stopped at red lights, and even in restrooms.

 

Click here to continue reading…

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Mickey Rooney Drama

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 18th, 2011
2011
Feb 18

BREAKING NEWS

Mickey Rooney Gets Restraining Order Against Stepson

 

 

 

February 15, 2011

 

(NewsCore) – LOS ANGELES — Hollywood veteran Mickey Rooney obtained a restraining order against his stepson Tuesday in Los Angeles, alleging that the man is trying to steal his assets, TMZ reported.

 

The 90-year-old actor claims stepson Christopher Aber, 52, “threatens, intimidates … and harasses” him and has tried to convince him to sign over his assets to him.

 

According to Rooney’s petition for the restraining order, “Mickey is extremely fearful that Chris will become physically threatening against Mickey and may even attempt to kidnap Mickey from his home.”

 

Aber and his wife were ordered to stay 100 yards away from Rooney. Rooney also asked the judge in the case to appoint a temporary conservator to help protect his assets, and the judge complied by granting conservator status to Rooney’s attorney.

 

Aber is the son of Rooney’s eighth wife, Jan Rooney, to whom he has been married since 1978.

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Lewis Stone’s Death and Funeral…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jun 15th, 2009
2009
Jun 15

CELEBRITY DEATHS AND FUNERALS

Lewis Stone

 Lewis Stone

 
By Allan R. Ellenberger

  

A former Broadway matinee idol and cavalry officer, Lewis Stone was, for the last 35 years of his life, one of the leading film actors in Hollywood. A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Stone made the stage his career after completing his college education. He had made considerable headway in the theater when he was called into the Spanish American War.

 

After the war, Stone returned to Broadway with a role in Sidetracked, which made him a star and a matinee idol within a matter of months. Subsequent plays such as The Girl of the Golden West and The Bird of Paradise – popular plays of the time – gave him the chance to master his craft.

 

One of the first actors from the legitimate stage to see the possibilities in movies, Stone made his first major screen appearance in 1915 in Honor’s Altar, which was directed by Thomas Ince. Stone’s popularity soared in the new medium and he soon won roles in other silent films. Among his better known credits were The Prisoner of Zenda (1922), Scaramouche (1923) and The Girl from Montmartre (1926). He received a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for the 1928 film, The Patriot.

 

Lewis Stone and Alice Hollister

Lewis Stone and Alice Hollister in Milestone (1920)

 

It was after the advent of sound that he reached his greatest popularity as Judge Hardy in the Andy Hardy series with Mickey Rooney. He spent most of his years as a screen actor with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer where his credits included Mata Hari (1931), China Seas (1935) and Three Wise Fools (1946).

 

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Lewis Stone (left, front row) and his Andy Hardy family

 

In September 1953 Stone was preparing to accept a role in a forthcoming Paramount production of Sabrina (1954) starring Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart and was awaiting the arrival of the script. At the time, the Stones were being annoyed by a group of boys who would take midnight swims in their pool and toss furniture in afterward.

 

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The former residence of Lewis Stone

 

On the evening of Saturday, September 12, 1953, Stone and his third wife Hazel, were watching television at their home at 455 S. Lorraine Boulevard when they heard a racket in the back yard. When he investigated, Stone found lawn furniture once again floating in the pool and glimpsed three or perhaps four teenage boys running towards the street. Stone gave chase despite his wife’s warning not to exert himself.

 

Upon reaching the sidewalk, Stone suddenly collapsed. A gardener, Juan Vergara witnessed the chase and summoned aid. Sadly the actor died of a heart attack on the sidewalk without regaining consciousness. Lewis Stone was 73.

 

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 The sidewalk where Lewis Stone died

 

Within the hour, police took three boys, one of them 13 and the other two 15, into custody and booked them on suspicion of malicious mischief. They told officers that they previously had taken a swim in the pool and “thought it would be funny if they threw the furniture into it” because Stone had chased them before. After being booked at the Wilshire Station, they were lectured by police before being released to the custody of their parents pending possible Juvenile Court action.

 

Lewis Stone was survived by his third wife, Hazel (Wolf) and two daughters Virginia and Barbara.

 

Stone’s funeral was held at his home on Wednesday, September 16. Last rites were conducted by Dr. Ernest Holmes, founder of the Institute of Religious Science, in the ballroom of the Stone home. More than 100 invited friends including film executives, producers, directors and actors occupied the ballroom and the adjoining paneled library beneath a replica of a Raphael Madonna.

 

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Pallbearers carry the casket of Lewis Stone into his home for the funeral. Compare with the photo below and notice the same doorway, window and columns.

 

Lewis Stone residence

 

“A great friend, a great citizen, a great artist has left us,” said Dr. Holmes. “To know this man was to admire and to love him.” He said that Stone was a religious man whose philosophy was that “not some people but all people are immortal.”

 

Among those present were executives of MGM including Louis B. Mayer, Dore Schary, Edward J. Mannix, producer Jack Cummings, and many others.

 

Mayer, actors Robert Young and Charles Ruggles and agent Fred Fralick were among the pallbearers. Also present were Mickey Rooney, Fay Holden and Celia Parker who played Stone’s family in the Andy Hardy series. 

 

Dozens of other actors who worked with Stone were there – Louis Calhern, Ralph Morgan, Russell Simpson, Donald Crisp, Otto Krueger, Marjorie Rambeau and many more. Directors who guided him in his film productions such as Mervyn LeRoy, Frank Lloyd and Robert Z. Leonard were present.

 

Dr. Holmes in his brief service quoted poems that were favorites of Stone, including the “Good-Night, Sweet Prince” passage from Hamlet that is the requiem for actors. Singer John Gary sang “Abide With Me” and “The Lord’s Prayer.”

 

Stone’s body was taken to Rosedale Cemetery where it was cremated. His ashes are listed as being sent to Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York where he purchased a lot in 1914. His first wife Margaret and two daughters are buried there unmarked, but his ashes, according to his daughter, were scattered over his ranch in Malibu.

 

Stone’s estate which was valued at $150,000 was left entirely to his widow, Hazel. The will, dated February 18, 1935, explained that everything was left to Hazel, and nothing to his two daughters because they had been well provided for under insurance policies. Stone’s friend and attorney, Lloyd Wright, was named executor. Wright’s probate petition estimated the estate’s income as $3,500 a year.

 

Walter Hampden took over the role of Oliver Larrabee in Sabrina that was originally intended for Stone.

 

NOTE: The address above is a private residence. Please DO NOT disturb the occupants.

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Margaret O’Brien’s Stolen Oscar

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 31st, 2009
2009
May 31

FILM HISTORY

Journey for Margaret’s Oscar

 

Margaret O'Brien and her Oscar

  

By Allan R. Ellenberger
May 30, 2009

 

Oscar. The Academy Award. Regardless of its name, it evokes the same emotion of respect for those who have been fortunate enough to receive one. And for those lucky ones, whether deserved or not, it is the brass ring, the ultimate in praise from their peers.

 

And so it was for little eight year-old Margaret O’Brien, arguably the most talented of all the child stars of her day – or since – who received the coveted award for most outstanding child actress of 1944 for her performance in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). The special Oscar, which was a miniature version of the acclaimed award, was given sporadically in the thirties and forties. Previous winners included Mickey Rooney, Deanna Durbin and Judy Garland who was Margaret’s co-star that year.

 

Born Angela Maxine O’Brien, little Margaret’s rise to fame was meteoric. After seeing her photograph on the cover of a magazine, an executive at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer signed her for a one-line scene in Babes On Broadway (1941). The powers that be at MGM saw the raw talent that the four year-old possessed, and immediately cast her in a war-time drama with Robert Young called Journey For Margaret (1942), from which she took her new name. Small parts in three films soon followed until her starring role in Lost Angel, (1944) which was the first written specifically for her.

 

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Joan Carroll, Lucille Bremmer, Judy Garland, Tom Drake and Margaret O’Brien in a scene from Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

 

At the request of director Vincent Minnelli, the studio cast her in the role of Tootie Smith in their new Technicolor musical, Meet Me in St. Louis. MGM had big hopes for this film and spent an astronomical $100,000 to build the St. Louis street on their back lot. Besides Margaret, the film included Judy Garland, Lucille Bremmer and Mary Astor and introduced such musical standards as “The Boy Next Door,” “The Trolley Song,” and the holiday classic, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which Garland sang to Margaret.

 

When the film was released near the end of 1944, critics across the country applauded Margaret’s performance. The Hollywood Reporter claimed that she was the hottest thing on the MGM roster.

 

“Hers is a great talent,” the Reporter continued, “as distinctly outstanding as the greatest stars we have. The O’Brien appeal is based on her naturalness. She’s all America’s child, the type every person in an audience wants to take into his arms.”

 

But it wasn’t only America that raved. In London, the film was the biggest hit that city had seen in months. The Daily Express prophetically declared, “Her quiet, compelling acting, worthy of an Academy Award, steals the show.”

 

 Margaret O'Brien and Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis

 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shared that opinion and awarded her a Special Oscar for the Most Outstanding Child Actress of 1944. At the ceremony, which was held at Grauman’s Chinese Theater on March 15, 1945, Margaret was given her Oscar by director Mervyn LeRoy. The emcee for the evening, comedian Bob Hope, lifted Margaret to the microphone so she could be heard by the listening radio audience.

 

“Will you hurry up and grow up, please?” Hope said as he struggled with the young winner.

 

As LeRoy handed her the Oscar, he said, “To the best young actress of the whole year of 1944. Congratulations.”

 

“Thank you,” she replied. I really don’t know what to say. Thank you very much.”

 

However she did know what to say. Her mother had written her an acceptance speech, but at the last minute Margaret decided to improvise her very own thank you to the Academy.

 

During her career, Margaret O’Brien was bestowed with many awards and accolades, including the honor of placing her hands and footprints in cement in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese, but the Oscar would be her most prized and valued possession. Unfortunately the little statuette would not stay around for long.

 

At the O’Brien home on Beverly Drive, Margaret had a separate room for her awards. One day in 1958, their maid took the Oscar and several other awards to her home to polish – a practice she did on several occasions. After three days, the maid failed to return so Mrs. O’Brien called and told her that she was dismissed and asked that she return the awards.

 

Not long after, Mrs. O’Brien, who was not in good health, suffered a relapse and died. Grief stricken, Margaret forgot about the maid and her Oscar until several months later when she tried to contact her, only to find that her phone was disconnected. The maid had moved and did not leave a forwarding address. Margaret considered the Oscar gone forever. A few years later, the Academy graciously replaced the award with a substitute, but it was not the same.

 

Over the next thirty years, Margaret would attend memorabilia shows searching for her lost Oscar. Then, in early 1995, a friend saw that Oscar in a catalogue for an upcoming memorabilia auction. Margaret contacted the Academy legal department who acted swiftly in having the Oscar returned.

 

Margaret O'Brien and Allan Ellenberger

Margaret O’Brien with her stolen Oscar that was returned to her by the Academy, and me in my younger days (no I’m not drunk it’s just one-of-those-pics) Michael Schwibs photo

 

On February 7, 1995, nearly fifty years since she first received it, the Academy officially returned the stolen Oscar to Margaret O’Brien in a special ceremony at their headquarters in Beverly Hills. Once reunited with her award, Margaret told the attending journalists:

 

“For all those people who have lost or misplaced something that was dear to them, as I have, never give up the dream of searching – never let go of the hope that you’ll find it because after all these many years, at last, my Oscar has been returned to me.”

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