Ava Lavina Gardner was born on December 24, 1922 in Grabtown, North Carolina, United States.
Father's name: Jonas Gardner
Mother's name: Mary Elizabeth Baker
Brother: Raymond Gardner,Melvin Gardner
Sister: Beatrice Gardner, Myra Gardner, Elsie Mae Gardner, Inez Gardner
Spouse: Frank Sinatra (m. 1951–1957), Artie Shaw (m. 1945–1946), Mickey Rooney (m. 1942–1943)
Ava Gardner, Snowdrop, Angel
Height: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
Ava Lavinia Gardner (1922 - 1990) was an American actress, who many still consider the most beautiful woman to have appeared on film, starred in such popular films as "The Killers" (1946) and "Night of the Iguana" (1964). Born in North Carolina, Ava Gardner was the youngest of seven children. Her parents were poor cotton and tobacco farmers. At the age of 13, Gardner moved with her family to Virginia, where her mother managed a boarding house for ship workers. However, her father became ill during this time and died when Ava was 15. The family returned to North Carolina following his death and Gardner attended high school, graduating in 1939. Ava Lavinia Gardner caught MGM's eye as a beautiful teenager, and was playing bit parts in films by the time she was 20.
She landed her first starring role in 'Whistle Stop' (1946), and then made a splash that same year in 'The Killers', co-starring with Burt Lancaster. She then appeared in 'The Hucksters' (1947), 'One Touch of Venus' (1948), 'East Side, West Side' (1949), 'Show Boat' (1951) and 'Lone Star' in 1952. But it wasn't until 1953, when John Ford cast her in 'Mogambo', with Clark Gable, that her true talent emerged, gaining her one Oscar nomination, for Best Actress. After this, she enjoyed roles in 'The Barefoot Contessa' (1954), 'The Little Hut' (1957), 'On The Beach' (1959), 'The Angel Wore Red' (1960) and 'Seven Days in May' in 1964. Her performance in 'The Night of the Iguana' (1964) also received rave reviews and won Gardner a BAFTA and Golden Globe award nomination.
Her marriages were even bigger news than her films. After brief marriages to Mickey Rooney, and bandleader Artie Shaw, her marriage to Frank Sinatra was the most famous and the longest-lasting, from 1948 to 1957. She married Rooney on 10 January 1942 when she was 19-years-old. They divorced in 1943. Her second marriage to Shaw was also short, lasting between 1945 and 1946. Sinatra left his wife Nancy to marry Gardner, leading to criticism from gossip columnists, the Catholic Church and his fans for leaving his wife for a femme fatale. Their marriage was tumultuous with Gardner falling pregnant twice and having an abortion both times, stating MGM had penalty clauses for stars who had babies. They divorced in 1957 but remained good friends for the rest of her life. It all became too much for her, especially when she continued to have trouble getting quality parts, and she moved to Spain in the late 1950s, making most of her films in Europe after that. Roles over this period included 'The Bible: In The beginning' (1966), 'Mayerling' (1968) and 'The Ballad of Tam Lin' in 1970. She later moved to London, where she lived until her death.
Her beauty remained her most enduring asset, even at fifty. In 1974, she appeared in 'Earthquake', playing Lorne Greene's daughter, in spite of the fact that she was only six years younger than him at the time. She appeared in other film such as 'The Sentinel' (1977) and 'The Kidnapping of the President' (1980) before turning to TV work. In 1985, she starred in the TV shows 'AD' and 'Knots Landing' before the film 'Long Hot Summer'. Her final film was an undistinguished 1986 made-for-TV effort, called 'Harem'. She spent her final years living in her apartment in London. After two strokes in 1986, which left her partially paralysed and bedridden, Frank Sinatra paid her medical costs. Her last words were 'I'm tired' to her housekeeper Carmen. She died of pneumonia at the age of 67, shortly after completing her autobiography 'Ava: My Story'. After her death, Sinatra's daughter found him slumped in his room, face wet with tears, unable to raise his voice above a whisper. She had been the love of his life. Gardner also declared in her own autobiography shortly before her death that Sinatra was also her biggest love. She is also thought to have inspired his song 'I'm a Fool to Love You'.
Gardner attended high school in Rock Ridge and she graduated from there in 1939. She then attended secretarial classes at Atlantic Christian College in Wilson for about a year.
Ava Lavinia Gardner was an actress.
Ava Gardner began her career first as a model, then as a contract player at MGM, where her gawky, unsophisticated demeanor was totally made over by the studio into an image of inaccessible glamour. Gardner toiled in tiny bit roles, finally getting a worthwhile one on loan-out to Universal in The Killers (1946). MGM was never very comfortable with the bad-girl persona she displayed so well in this film, and, thus, most of her starring appearances at her home studio were relatively sympathetic roles in The Hucksters (1947) and Show Boat (1951). Her cinema reputation as The World's Most Beautiful Animal (in the words of a '50s publicity campaign) was once again manifested in loan-out movies like Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) and The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952). MGM eventually came to terms with the elements that made Gardner popular, notably in the gutsy Mogambo (1953), in which she made an excellent partner to the equally earthy Clark Gable. Director George Cukor was much taken by Gardner and cast the actress in her best and most complex MGM role in Bhowani Junction (1956), in which she was torn not only by love but also clashing East Indian cultural values. Gardner was equally well served in The Barefoot Contessa (1954), which, in many ways, was a replay of her own rags-to-riches personal story. The actress was cast in some of her best parts during the '60s, notably in Seven Days in May and Night of the Iguana (both 1964), but the pace of her jet-setting lifestyle and increasing personal problems began to show. With roles and public appearances steadily decreasing, she died on January 25, 1990.
Gardner was nominated for an Academy Award for Mogambo (1953); the award was won by Audrey Hepburn for Roman Holiday. Her performance as Maxine Faulk in The Night of the Iguana (1964) was well reviewed, and she was nominated a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe.
Flamenco dancing was her favorite hobby.
Gardner died at her London home, 34 Ennismore Gardens, where she had lived since 1968. Gardner was buried in the Sunset Memorial Park, Smithfield, North Carolina, next to her brothers and their parents, Jonas (1878–1938) and Mollie Gardner (1883–1943). The town of Smithfield now has an Ava Gardner Museum.