Thursday, March 15, 2012
Peter woos Ava Gardner--and comes to regret it
Peter learned that was true on New Year's Eve, 1946. He and Ava spent a romantic evening at a friend's party, kissed and embraced at midnight, then went back to Ava's place where they made love. As Peter was preparing to leave at 3 a.m., there was a knock at the door. It was the young crooner Mel Torme coming to pick Ava up. Stunned, Peter watched them get into Torme's car for a drive up the coast.
That was the end of Peter and Ava, but the relationship came back to haunt him. Seven years later, Ava had married and divorced Frank Sinatra, one of Peter's closest friends. He and Milt Ebbins sat and talked with her for about an hour, and that was that. But a gossip columnist ran an item the next day suggesting the Peter and Ava were rekindling their romance. That night, at 2 a.m., Frank called Peter, threatening to break both his legs then kill him if he ever spent time with Ava again, then slammed the phone down. He did not speak to Peter for the next five years. What caused the thaw? It looked like Peter's brother-in-law Jack Kennedy might be elected president, and Frank wanted nothing else more than to bask in the glow of being a friend of the president of the United States.
That would come to pass, but it was Bobby Kennedy who caused Frank to fly into a rage and ostracize Peter from his Rat Pack circle for the rest of his life.