Ava Lavinia Gardner (December 24, 1922 – January 25, 1990) was one of the most famous actors of The Golden Age of Hollywood. She was well known for her arresting beauty and glamour, playing femme fatales and other stylishly beautiful women.
Gardner was born to a poor farming family in Johnston County, North Carolina.note The family struggled for years, losing their farm in The Great Depression and moving to Newport News, Virginia to find work, only to suffer the death of Gardner's father in 1938. In 1941 she was visiting her sister in New York when her brother-in-law, a photographer, took a picture of her and put it up in his studio. This picture drew the attention of an MGM talent scout, and just that quickly, Gardner was signed to a contract.
Five years of mostly bit parts went by before Gardner's big break playing Kitty the Femme Fatale in groundbreaking Film Noir The Killers. This Star-Making Role propelled her to a run of hits in the late 1940s and 1950s in which she played various incarnations of beauty and class. In 1953 Gardner, usually considered more of a "movie star" as opposed to a great dramatic actor, got an Academy Award nomination for her part in Mogambo.
Gardner managed to extend her career as she aged by appearing in some Disaster Movies and working on television. Her very busy personal life included marriages to Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, and bandleader Artie Shaw, and a longtime off-and-on relationship with Howard Hughes. Late in life, she suffered from various health problems including emphysema and a stroke. The stroke damaged her face, which led her to say to a would-be biographer, "I'd be lying to you if I told you that losing my looks is no big deal. It hurts, god damn it, it hurts like a son-of-a-bitch." (She was also known as a very candid interviewee and having a very foul mouth.)
Ava Gardner films on TV Tropes:
- Hitler's Madman (1943) (extra)
- Three Men in White (1944)
- The Killers (1946)
- The Hucksters (1947)
- One Touch of Venus (1948)
- The Bribe (1949)
- Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951)
- Lone Star (1952)
- Knights of the Round Table (1953)
- The Band Wagon (1953) (cameo)
- Mogambo (1953)
- The Barefoot Contessa (1954)
- The Little Hut (1957)
- The Sun Also Rises (1957)
- On the Beach (1959)
- 55 Days at Peking (1963)
- The Night of the Iguana (1964)
- Seven Days in May (1964)
- The Bible (1966)
- The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)
- Earthquake (1974)
- The Blue Bird (1976)
- The Cassandra Crossing (1976)
- The Sentinel (1977)
- Betty and Veronica: Gardner, with her dark hair and earthy sexuality, was sometimes the Veronica in Betty and Veronica pairs. She was the Veronica in The Hucksters (opposite Deborah Kerr as the angelic, strawberry-blonde Betty, for the affections of Clark Gable), and in Mogambo (opposite Grace Kelly as the angelic blonde Betty, for the affections of—Clark Gable).
- Ms. Fanservice: Gardner was almost always dressed to be as sexy as possible.
Ava Gardner in fiction:
- She's played by Kate Beckinsale in The Aviator, which dramatizes her affair with Howard Hughes.
- She also made an appearance in The Rat Pack biopic, this time played by Deborah Kara Unger.