AVA GARDNER Biography - Actors and Actresses


Biography » actors and actresses » ava gardner


Name: Ava Lavinia Gardner                                                                           
Born: 24 December 1922 Brogden, North Carolina, USA                                                 
Died: 25 January 1990 Westminster, London, England, UK                                             
Ava Lavinia Gardner (December 24, 1922 – January 25, 1990) was an Academy Award-nominated         
American actress. She is listed as one of the American Film Institute's greatest                   
stars of all time.                                                                                 
Ava Gardner was born in 1922 in the small farming community of Brogden, Johnston                   
County, North Carolina, the youngest of seven children (she had two brothers and                   
four sisters) of poor cotton and tobacco farmers; her mother, Molly, was a                         
Baptist of Scots-Irish and English descent, while her father, Jonas Bailey                         
Gardner, was a Catholic of Irish American and American Indian (Tuscarora)                           
descent. When the children were still young, the Gardners lost their property,                     
forcing Jonas Gardner to work at a sawmill and Molly to begin working as a cook                     
and housekeeper at a dormitory for teachers at the nearby Brogden School.                           
When Ava was thirteen years old, the family decided to try their luck in a                         
bigger town, Newport News, Virginia, where Molly Gardner found work managing a                     
boardinghouse for the city's many shipworkers. That job did not last long, and                     
the family moved to the Rock Ridge suburb of Wilson, North Carolina, where Molly                   
Gardner ran another boarding house. Gardner's father died of bronchitis in 1935.                   
Ava and some of her siblings 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.                                                       
Gardner, who by age eighteen had become a stunning, green-eyed brunette, was                       
visiting her sister Beatrice in New York in 1941 when Beatrice's husband Larry,                     
a professional photographer, offered to take her portrait. He was so pleased                       
with the results that he displayed the finished product in the front window of                     
his Fifth Avenue studio.                                                                           
In 1941, a Loews Theatres legal clerk, Barnard "Barney" Duhan, spotted Gardner's                   
photo in the Tarr Photography Studio on 5th Avenue in New York. The photo had                       
been taken in 1939 by the proprietor, Ava's brother-in-law Larry Tarr, who was                     
married to Ava's older sister, Bappie (Beatrice). At the time, Duhan often posed                   
as an MGM talent scout to meet girls, using the fact that MGM was a subsidiary                     
of Loews. Duhan entered Tarr's and tried to get Ava's number, but was rebuffed                     
by the receptionist. Duhan made the offhand comment, "Somebody should send her                     
info to MGM," and the Tarrs did so immediately. Shortly after, Ava, who at the                     
time was a student at Atlantic Christian College, traveled to New York to be                       
interviewed at MGM's New York office. She was offered a standard contract by MGM,                   
and Ava left school for Hollywood in 1941 with her sister Bappie accompanying                       
her. MGM's first order of business was to provide her a voice coach, as her                         
Carolina drawl was nearly incomprehensible.                                                         
Gardner was nominated for an Academy Award for Mogambo (1953), however she lost                     
to Audrey Hepburn for Roman Holiday. Many thought Gardner's finest performance                     
was as Maxine Faulk in The Night of the Iguana (1964), for which she was not                       
nominated. (Grayson Hall, as the repressed Judith Fellowes, however, was                           
nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category).                                                 
Other films include The Hucksters (1947), Showboat (1951), The Snows of                             
Kilimanjaro (1952), 1954's The Barefoot Contessa (which some consider to be her                     
"signature film" which mirrored her real life custom of going barefoot), Bhowani                   
Junction (1956), The Sun Also Rises in which she played party-girl "Brett Ashley",                 
1957), and the film version of Neville Shute's best-selling On the Beach, co-starring               
Gregory Peck.                                                                                       
Gardner also showed her depth as an actress in 55 Days at Peking (1963).                           
"Off-camera, she gave off sparks of wit, as in her assessment of John Ford, who                     
directed her in Mogambo: 'The meanest man on earth. Thoroughly evil. Adored him!'"                 
She moved to London, England in 1968, undergoing a hysterectomy to allay her                       
worries of contracting the uterine cancer that had killed her mother. That year                     
she made what some consider to be one of her best films, a technicolor, English-language           
remake of Mayerling, in which she played the Austrian Empress Elisabeth opposite                   
James Mason as Emperor Franz Joseph.