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“I either write the book or sell the jewels,” screen star Ava Gardner told her ghostwriter, Peter Evans, “and I’m kinda sentimental about the jewels.” The line appears in the 2013 tell-all Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations, one of many unauthorized biographies and celebrity memoirs about legends like Richard Burton, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor that I devoured at the time. I’d been hired to write two comic books about Monroe and Taylor, so my bookshelves became crowded with Hollywood tales. The thing that made The Secret Conversations memorable—besides Gardner dishing about the bedroom skills of famous ex-husband Frank Sinatra—was that instead of working silently behind the scenes, Evans made himself part of the story. Long before I became a ghostwriter myself, Evans’s relationship with…
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