Ava Gardener-“The most beautiful Animal”(1922-1990)

Ava GardenerAva Gardener

Ava Gardener was a beautiful American actress. She was one of the most popular and best actress of the Golden Age of Hollywood. An iconic star who rose to fame in the 1940s and 1950s.Her acting career in films and TV’s spans five decades. She is only one of the big Hollywood star with a museum dedicated to her life. In 1999, she was ranked as number 25 of the greatest female screen legends list by the American Film Institute.

People remembered her for her performance in film like Hucksters (1947), The Pandora and the Fying Dutch (1951), Snow Boat (1951), Mogambo (1953), The Snows of Kilimanjaro(1952), On The Beach (1959).

Worked with best directors of her time like George Cukor, John Ford and Joseph L.Mankiewicz; and with talented actors of her time like Cark Gable, Humphrey Bogart and Gregory Peck.

She was also known for involvement of romances with famous actors of her time such as Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra and Howard Hughes.

Childhood and Education of Ava Gardener

She was born as Ava Lavinia  Gardener in a rural family on Decembr 24, 1922 in Grabton, North Carolina, US to Mary Elizabeth and Jonas Bailey Gardener. Her family belongs to English-Irish–Scots ancestry. She was the youngest among her seven siblings- 2 brothers (Raymond Allison and Jonas Melvin Gardner) and four sisters (Beatrice Elizabeth Cole, Elsie Mae Creech, Edna Inez Grimes and Myra Merritt Pearce). She grew as a tomboy and had no interest in acting.

Her father works in tobacco farming and her mother works in local boarding school,Brogden School, as a cook and housekeeper. At the age of 12, her family moved to Newport News, Virginia after her parents were leftunemployed during the Great Economic Depression.

In her memoir ” Ava Gardener The Secret Conversations” she recalled her childhood- “In the summertime, I went barefoot, that was what farm kids, of course we were poor. It was the Great Depression everybody was poor”. 

During her childhood she was boarded at a local school, Brogden School where her mother works as a boarding keeper.Later she studied at Rock Ridge high school and went to college at Atlantic Christian College in Wilson.She did not complete her graduation as she went to Hollywood to pursue her acting career.

Ava’s father died on May 26, 1938. He died of a bronchial condition when they were living for a short while in Newport New Virginia. And her mother died of Cancer on May 21, 1943.

How Ava Lavinia Gardener was named?

The name “Ava” was named after her a beloved Aunt named Ava and Lavinia was named by her mother.

Birthday of Ava Gardener

Ava GArdener was born on December 24, 1922. So she is also called as “The Christmas Eve Girl”.

Physical stats-Height,Weight and Zodiac sign of Ava Gardener

Height 5 feet 6.5 inches
Weight 57 kg
Body measurements 34-23-35 inches
Eye colour  Green
Hair colour Dark brown
Shoe size 6 US
Zodiac sign Capricorn
Religion Raised Baptist
Nationality American

Photos of Ava Gardener

Acting Career of Ava Gardener

She had no interest in acting in her childhood. Growing up she idolized the famous actress Bette Davis. However a photograph of her change the course of her life. Her elder sister Beatrice’s husband was a photographer. On a visit to her brother-in-law photo studio she was offered to take a portrait and he displayed it i his studio.

Her photo was spotted by a young boy who works in the MGM as a talented scout to meet girls. The boy asked Ava’s sister to send into MGM. At that time she was only 18 years old and she was a student Atlantic Christian College. She went to MGM’s New york offive in 1941 to be interviewed. Head of MGM, Louis B. Mayer,once said She cannot sing and act.

As she had no acting experience at the beginning of acting career so she had small minor roles in her early films. Her feature film was “We Were Dancing”,1942. Before her breakout film “The Killers” came in 1946 she had some uncredited films. Playing the role of femme fatale Kitty Collins in “The Killers”, she was subsequently cast in better roles.

With her incredible acting skills, magnetic screen presence,slurty voice, green eyes captivated audiences worldwide she rose to fame as a leading lady in the 1940s and 1950s. She was called “The World’s Most Beautiful Animal” by the MGM.

After that she never turn backed. In a few years, came her iconic films such The Hucksters (1947), One Touch of Venus (1948), Show Boat (1951), The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952), Lone Star (1952). She earned her only oscar nomination for best actress for Mogambo(1953).

She was costarred with Humphrey Bogart in The Barefoot Contessa (1954). She was praised for her performance as half-caste Anglo-Indian heroine

in Bhowani Junction (1956). Other Gardenes best films include On the Beach (1959), Seven Days in May (1964), and The Night of the Iguana (1964). Though she remained active until the late 1980s she gave some disaster films in the 1970s such as Earthquake (1974), The Cassandra Crossing (1976) and City on Fire (1979). In her later career she acted mostly on Television. Her last movie came in 1982,Regina Roma.

Awards won by Ava Gardener

During her 45 year long acting career, Ava Gardener earned many awards and recognition from critics, fans, and film festivals.

  • She earned Academy Award nomination as a leading lady for her performance in Mogambo(1953)
  • Nominated BAFTA film award for the category of Best Foreign Actress of the film Bhowani Junction (1956),On the Beach (1959) and The Night of the Iguana (1964).
  • Nominated Golden Globe for the category of Best Actress – Drama of the film The Night of the Iguana (1964).
  • In 1951 she was nominated Gold Medal for the category of best actress of the film Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951).
  • In 1953 she was nominated NYFCC (New York Film Critics Circle) Award for the category of best actress of the film Mogambo (1953).
  • In 1958 Golden Laurel placed 7th place of the Top female star.
  • In 1964 she also won Prize San Sebastián Best Actress of the film The Night of the Iguana (1964).

Spouse of Ava Gardener

Ava Gardener married three times

  • First marriage of Ava Gardener -Mickey Rooney

Ava Gardener with her first husband Mickey RooneyAva Gardener married the famous American actor on Janauary 10, 1942. Ava Gardener was the first of 8 wives of Mickey. They met at the MGM studio while Mickey was filming. It was love at the first sight. Mickey was the MGM’s biggest and most lucrative star when they met. They married in a small cermony in Ballard, California. She was only 19 years old at that time.

The marriage lasted only 1 year and they divorced on 21st, May 1943. It was the day Ava’s Mother died. She said her marriage with Rooney was her biggest mistake and the smallest husband she had.

  •  Second marriage of Ava Gardener – Artie Shaw

Ava Gardener with her second husband Mickey RooneyArtie Shaw was a famous American jazz musician,ban leader, author, composer and actor. Ava Gardener was introduced to Artie Shaw by a mutual friend, Frances Heflin who was also an actress. In her biography Ava: My Story, she recalled the first time she saw him, “Oh! my God, I thought, What a beautiful man!” It was love at first sight.

They had a longer romantic relationship before getting married than Ava and Rooney. At that time she was doing some small part in films while Artie was already a famous Jazz’s Clarinetists. The two had co-write and record a song in January 1945, The Grabtown Grapple” which pays tribute to Ava’s birthplace, Grabtown, North Carolina.  

They married on october 17, 1945 at Artie’s Beverly Hills mansion on Bedford Drive. She was only 22 years old and Artie was 35 years old. Artie was already married and it was his 5th marriage.However the couple marriage did not last long. Their relationship soured as Artie’s desire to make Ava into an intellectual. They divorced on 25th october, 1946.

  • Third marriage of Ava Gardener- Frank Sinatra

Ava Gardener with Frank SinatraAva Gardener and Frank Sinatra first met in the early 1940s on the MGM studio. They had known each other from that time. In 1948 they met again and began to spend a lot of time together and develop a close relationship.

Frank was already married to Nancy Barbato. He had three children altogether. Both have many common interest especially jazz, alcohol, sex and also shared a common flaw. By 1949 they began dating and the pair was caught on a date and they exposed their relationship in 1951.

In 1951 Frank divorced Nancy Barbato and he married Ava Gardener in the same year ( 7 November, 1951) in a small ceremony in Pennsylvania. In 1953 Gardener was pregnant of Frannk’s baby but she aborted. There were constant fights between them. At one incident Frank Sinatra made a suicide attempt by taking a handful of sleeping pills.

In 1954 Gardener filed for divorce. He was heartbroken and slashed his wrists hoping he would wake up to his wife sitting beside his hospital bed but she would never showed up.

On 5 July, 1957 he granted divorce to Gardener. His album “Where Are You?” (1957) is an outpouring of grief and emotion because of seperation and break-up with Gardener. He told she was the prettiest woman he had ever seen.

Children of Ava Gardener

Ava Gardener did not have any children from the three marraiges as she did not want to bring any children into a family that was not stable.

Net Worth of Ava Gardener

Ava was financially secure. During her 17 year long MGM contract from 1941- 1958, she did not earn much. She received her pay according to the contract whether her films were successful or not. After completing her contract, from 1958 she made the most money from her acting. At the time of her death she had a massive sum of $200 thousand (from various online sources). she not only earn from the acting but also from endorsements of various brands and products, investments such as real estate, art and jewellery. 

Ava Gardener’s last 35 years

Ava was bored of press and photographs pressure while she was in Europe. She fell in love with the Spanish people after visiting in Spain during the filming of “Pandora and the Flying Dutchman”(1951). After her marriage with Frank with Frank Sanatra she began to live in Spain. In Spain she felt she was in home. She was there until 1968 and then moved to London. She lived in London until her death in 1990.

Ava Gardener’s cause of death

Ava Gardener was suffered from poor health from Pulmonary Fibrosis. She was a lifelong heavy smoker. At her later she could not go without an oxygen tank. In 1986, she had a fatal stroke which made her paralyzed much of her left side. She passed away from Bronchial Pneumonia at the age of 67 in 1990.

Place of Death of Ava Gardener

She died at Westminster, London, England.

Burial place of Ava Gardener

Before her death Ava requested to be laid to rest alongside her parents and siblings. Ava Gardener was buried a few days later after he death. She was buried on January 29 in Smithfield, United States in the Gardener family where her mother was buried.

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