This post was written as a part of TMP’s “Historical Context” series, where I share excerpts from my collection of vintage publications.
Louella Parsons was a pioneer of celebrity gossip and entertainment news. Her columns were read world-wide, published in hundreds of newspapers. Who better to get the scoop on the tumultuous relationship between Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra for Modern Screen than Mrs. Parsons?
The mag’s February 1954 issues promises “the truth,” as told to Louella by the stars themselves. “Behind the mocking headlines is the true and tragic story of the Sintaras – too much in love to tell each other so!”
That “truth,” as it turns out, is mostly speculation and over-the-top descriptions of Frank’s behavior, based on Louella’s observance of him at concerts, as is usually the case with these good ol’ magazine articles that promise to spill all of the details of old Hollywood’s private lives.
Louella writes that Frank and Ava have “always chosen the hard way and let their quarrels become public knowledge,” when a simple phone call acknowledging their love for each other could have solved all of their problems.
Attending Frank’s concerts at the Sands in Vegas, Louella writes that “he sang his heart out. Never had he sung love songs with such feeling. He was singing right to Ava.” He was expecting Ava to come to the Sands, and Louella writes, “Every time I saw him he said, ‘I think she will be here any hour.'”
Ava never showed, so Frank reportedly “opened his heart” to Louella, telling her that he was too depressed to eat or sleep and that he was convinced Ava didn’t love him anymore.
Louella tosses in some quotes by Frank, in which he uses her name every couple of sentences, in attempt to confirm (for the naive reader) that the conversation wasn’t fabricated:
“Why, Louella, she didn’t even come to my opening here!”
“No matter where she’s been, Louella, I’ve flown to her regardless of the fact that I also had some important engagements.”
Naturally, when you’re one of the world’s most famous performers and you’re feeling blue, a gossip columnist is going to be the first person you turn to, riiiiight?
Ever the spectacular advice-giver, Louella takes it upon herself to fix Frank and Ava’s problems, advising him, “Frankie, you’re wrong. Ava’s no more at fault than you are. You’re proud. She’s proud. You’re both acting like teen-agers. If you love a girl and she loves you, forget about the things that have happened and try to salvage your life together.”
Louella Parsons: gossip columnist and alleged couples therapist to the stars.