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Grabtown Girl: Ava Gardner's North Carolina Childhood and Her Enduring Ties to Home

Doris Rollins Cannon

Down Home Press
$14.95 paperback
6 x 9
144 pages
black-and-white photos throughout
Published in 2001

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 inRed Dust. Twenty years later Ava would find herself in Jean Harlow's role in a remake of that storyMogambo, 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.




"Grabtown Girl is a most candid tribute to Ava Gardner that focuses on her relationships with the people she knew and loved in her beloved North Carolina before and after she became a world-renown actress. It is interesting to discover the diversity of the people who had such a profound and everlasting impact on Ava's life, from her most cherished childhood friend in elementary school to a most trusted friend during her adolescent years who later became a prominent N.C. businessman."

"The author includes extraordinary, never before published photographs and letters. I appreciate how Ms. Cannon ingeniously captures the core of Ava's innermost being, her heart and soul, via authentic documentation. This is the stuff good books are made of." 

"Grabtown Girl: what a treasure, what a gift! This is, in fact, the 'real deal' and that's what I call 'priceless!' Once you begin reading Grabtown Girl you may find that you are unable to put it down until you read every single page from start to finish!"

--Amazon.com reviewers