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Ava Gardner's tell-all memoirs reveal sex, lies and heartache

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Jun 16, 2013 | 6:14pm EDT

Legendary screen siren Ava Gardner has told all from beyond the grave in a explosive new autobiography detailing the sex, lies and booze which caused her so much heartache. The Hollywood beauty recruited British journalist Peter Evans to ghostwrite her memoirs in 1988 after she was left broke and alone following three failed marriages. She poured her heart out to the writer during a series of candid chats, but changed her mind about publishing the tome - and only allowed Evans to release the stories after her death. She died from pneumonia in 1990, aged 67, but Evans - who passed away last year (12) - waited until his final book, the new Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations, to compile the personal tales. In the tome, Gardner revealed she was a virgin when she wed Mickey Rooney in 1942, aged 19, but insisted, "I caught on very quickly." Their marriage fell apart within a year after she discovered that he had reportedly cheated on her in their marital bed while she was in hospital for an appendectomy: "He went through the ladies like a hot knife through fudge." Gardner enjoyed another brief marriage to bandleader Artie Shaw, who she described as "another kind of bully", but it's her revelations about her time with Frank Sinatra, who became her third husband, that prove to be the most shocking. Describing their first date - a drunken, late night drive through Palm Springs, California - the actress claimed Sinatra "shot out streetlights and store windows" with two .38 guns he kept in his glove compartment. While they were courting, she embarked on an affair with married Robert Mitchum, but when he learned she was also dating the My Way hitmaker, he ended the romance, much to her disappointment: "I was crazy about him... He said, 'Get into a fight with him (Sinatra), and he won't stop until one of you is dead.' He didn't want to risk it being him." Gardner went on to wed Sinatra in 1951, but their six-year union, during which she had two abortions, was not a happy one - she admitted it was filled with "fighting all the time, boozing and fighting". The marriage was her last trip up the aisle. The book is set to his stores on 3 July (13).

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