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At age nine, Ava Gardner went to the Howell Theater in Smithfield, North Carolina, with her mother Mollie to see her mother's favorite movie star Clark Gable starring as a safari leader in Africa with Jean Harlow in Red Dust. Twenty years later Ava would find herself in Jean Harlow's role in a remake of that story Mogambo, with none other than Clark Gable.
That such a thing could happen to a country girl from North Carolina was beyond the imagination not only of Ava but of everybody who knew her. But people learned to expect the unexpected from Ava. By 13, she'd decided she wanted to be a movie star, and at 18 she joked with friends that she was going to marry the biggest star in Hollywood. She did both, and went on to become one of the most famous women of the 20th century.
How did a shy, tomboyish farm girl do that?
Doris Rollins Cannon spent years interviewing family, friends, teachers and others who knew Ava to determine the forces that drove her, the values that guided her. She found they were firmly grounded in her North Carolina roots.
"She endured in a profession in which only the strong survive," Cannon writes. "And she survived, not because she overcame her rural North Carolina background-but because she drew her strength from it."
Much has been written about Ava's legendary life, but the material in this book, never before told, adds a new and moving dimension to her story. It includes letters and photographs never before published.
About the Author: Doris Rollins Cannon, a retired newspaper journalist, was chairman emeritus of the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield, North Carolina. She passed away on August 18, 2015.