Ava Gardner was a renowned actress who was among the leading heroines in Hollywood during the 1950s and 1960s. Considered to be one of the most attractive women of her day, she rose to fame with her appearance of the glamorous beauty, Kitty Collins, in ‘The Killers’. Born into a wide family, she lost her father at a young age. Growing up during the big Depression, her poor family could barely manage to survive. Ava became an actress totally by chance—her brother-in-law, a photographer, had taken a beautiful picture of hers which was sent to MGM studio. The dark-haired beauty with the bewitching smile was called for an audition and soon found herself signing a contract with the famous studio.
During her initial years, she received only small characters, however, her fortunes transformed when she was chosen to perform the femme fatale, Kitty Collins, in ‘The Killers’ which settled her as a leading lady. Propelled by the success of the movie, she went to play substantial characters in high-profile films from the 1950s onwards. The film ‘The Barefoot Contessa’ in which she worked with Humphrey Bogart is considered to be her signature film as she had a routine of going barefoot in real-life too.
|Birth Name||Ava Lavinia Gardner|
|Nick Name||Snowdrop, Angel, The Christmas Eve Girl|
|Age||(at time of her death) 67 Years|
|Birth Place||Grabtown, North Carolina, United States|
|Date of Birth||24 December 1922|
|Death Date||25 January 1990|
|Death Place||Westminster, London, England, United Kingdom|
|Religion||She was raised in a Baptist household but with advancing age, she became disillusioned with religion and eventually became an atheist.|
|Sun Sign/Zodiac Sign||Capricorn|
|Residence||Westminster, London, England, United Kingdom|
|Home Town||Grabtown, North Carolina, United State|
|Mother's Name||Mary Elizabeth Gardner (Dormitory Housekeeper, Boarding House Manager)|
|Father's Name||Jonas Bailey Gardner (Tobacco and Cotton Farmer, Sawmill Worker)|
|Brother||• Raymond Gardner (Older)|
• Melvin Gardner (Older)
|Sister||• Beatrice Gardner (Older)|
• Elsie Mae Gardner (Older)
• Inez Gardner (Older)
• Myra Gardner (Older)
|Affairs/Boyfriends||• Frank Sinatra (m. 1951–1957)|
• Artie Shaw (m. 1945–1946)
• Mickey Rooney (m. 1942–1943)
• Joseph M. Schenck
• Jorge Guinle
• Bugsy Siegel
• Charles Feldman
• John Huston
• Dick Cowell
• Helmut Dantine
• Ralph Kiner
• Frank Ryan
• Mel Tormé
• Robert Stack
• Jess Conrad
• Earl Muntz
• John Carroll
• Vinicius de Moraes
• Farley Granger
• Howard Hughes
• David Remar (1943)
• Alexander D’Arcy (1944)
• Mervyn LeRoy (1944)
• Chris Peterson (1944)
• Porfirio Rubirosa (1946)
• Paul Bryan (1947)
• Irving Reis (1947)
• Turhan Bey (1947)
• Greg Bautzer (1947)
• Howard Duff (1947-1950)
• Mickey Cohen (1948)
• Huntington Hartford (1948)
• Robert Taylor (1948-1953)
• Robert Walker (1948-1949)
• Van Heflin (1949)
• Peter Lawford (1949)
• Robert Mitchum (1949)
• Mario Cabre (1949)
• Paul Brooks (1951)
• John F. Kennedy (1952)
• Fernando Lamas (1952)
• Barbara Payton (1952) – RUMOR
• Lana Turner (1952) – RUMOR
• Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1954)
• David Hanna (1954)
• Luis Miguel Dominguin (1954)
• Billy Daniels (1954)
• Vic Damone (1955)
• Steve McQueen (1955)
• Walter Chiari (1955-1957)
• Sammy Davis Jr. (1956)
• Ernest Hemingway (1957)
• Marlon Brandon (1957)
• Robert Evans (1957-1958)
• Marlon Brando (1957)
• Peter Viertel (1958)
• Anthony Franciosa (1958)
• Johnny Stompanato (1958)
• Jimmy Kind (1958-1959)
• Sydney Guilaroff (1959)
• Tony Trabert (1959-1960)
• Peter O’Toole (1960)
• Claude Terrail (1960)
• Peter Duchin (1962)
• Kirk Douglas (1963)
• Richard Burton (1963)
• George C. Scott (1964-1969)
• Omar Sharif (1968)
• Prinz Von Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1970-1972)
• Ben Tatar (1973-1986)
Marital Status, Husband and Children
|Husband/Spouse||• Frank Sinatra (m. 1951–1957)|
• Artie Shaw (m. 1945–1946)
• Mickey Rooney (m. 1942–1943)
|School||Rock Ridge High School|
|College/University||Atlantic Christian College|
|Brands Endorsed||Ava Gardner had neither appeared in any TV commercial nor had she done endorsement work for any brand.|
Height, Weight, and Figure Measurements
|Height (Approx.)||in centimeters- 168 cm|
in meters- 1.68 m
in feet inches- 5’6”
|Weight (Approx.)||in kilograms- 54 kg|
in pounds- 119 lbs
|Breast Size||36 Inches|
|Hips Size||37 Inches|
|Waist Size||23 Inches|
Extra Ordinary Features
|Race / Ethnicity||White|
|Hair Color||Dark Brown|
Ava Gardner was born on December 24, 1922, in Grabtown, North Carolina, the youngest of seven children. She had two older brothers, Raymond and Melvin, and four older sisters, Beatrice, Elsie Mae, Inez, and Myra. Her parents, Mary Elizabeth “Molly” and Jonas Bailey Gardner (1878–1938) were poor tobacco sharecroppers. While accounts of her background vary, Ava’s only documented ancestry was English.
She was raised in the Baptist faith of her mother. While the children were still young, the Gardner’s lost their property, and Molly received an offer to work as a cook and housekeeper at a dormitory for teachers at the nearby Brogden School that included board for the family and where Jonas continued sharecropping tobacco and supplemented the dwindling work with odd jobs at sawmills.
In 1931, the teachers’ school closed forcing the family to finally give up on their property dreams and they moved to a larger city, Newport News, Virginia, where Molly found work managing a boarding house for the city’s many ships workers.
While in Newport News, Jonas became ill and died from bronchitis in 1938, when Ava was 15 years old. After her father’s death, the family moved to Rock Ridge near Wilson, North Carolina, where Molly ran another boarding house for teachers. Ava 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 Gardner Net Worth
Ava Gardner had a net worth equal to $200 thousand at the time of her death in 1990 (after adjusting for inflation).
|Estimated Net Worth (at time of her death) (Approx)||$200 Thousand|
|Estimated Net Worth in 2019 (Approx)||Under Review|
|Estimated Net Worth in 2018(Approx)||Under Review|
|Annual Salary||Under Review|
|Income Source||Actress, Singer|
Ava Gardner Museum is located in downtown Smithfield, North Carolina, and holds an extensive collection of artifacts from Ava Gardner’s career and private life.
The original collection was started in 1941 by a fan, Tom Banks, who at age 12 met Ava on the campus of Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College), where she was studying to become a secretary. When she did not return to school the next year, he saw a photograph of Gardner in a newspaper and learned that she had been signed to a movie contract with MGM.
The Banks family devoted most of their lives to collecting memorabilia from every source possible. In the early 1980s, Dr. Banks purchased the Brogden Teacherage, the house where Ava lived from age 2 to 13 and operated his own Ava Gardner Museum during the summers for nine years. Dr. Banks (he was a psychologist) suffered a stroke at the museum in August 1989 and died a few days later. Gardner died 5 months later on January 25, 1990. In the summer of 1990, Mrs. Banks donated the collection to the Town of Smithfield, being assured that a permanent museum would be maintained in Johnston County, Gardner’s birthplace and final resting place. Lorraine died a year and three days later on January 28, 1991, of complications of an asthma attack.
The Ava Gardner Museum was incorporated in 1996 as a 501(c)3 organization to manage and care for the Museum’s collection of personal items and movie memorabilia given to the Town of Smithfield by Tom and Lorraine Banks. Since that time, the Ava Gardner Museum Foundation has continued to acquire artifacts related to Gardner’s life and is committed to preserving these items and displaying them in an educational manner.
In August 1999, the Museum’s Board of Directors made an investment in downtown Smithfield by purchasing and renovating a 6,400-square-foot (590 m2) building that became the permanent home for the Museum’s collection. In October 2000, the new Ava Gardner Museum opened its doors and has continued to draw approximately 12,000 visitors annually.
Ava Gardner Quotes
- “The truth is, honey, I’ve enjoyed my life. I’ve had a hell of a good time.”
- “When I’m old and gray, I wish to have a house by the sea. With a lot of wonderful chums, good music, and booze around. And a damn good kitchen to cook in.”
- “S*x isn’t all that important, but it is when you love someone very much.”
- “I want to live to 150 years old, but the day I die, I want it to be with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of whiskey in the other.”
- “When I lose my sensitivity, honey, you can’t find it anyplace.”
- “Go fuck yourself,” I responded, always the lady. “I’m staying here.”
- “When you have to face up to the fact that marriage to the man you love is really over, that’s very tough, sheer agony. In that kind of distressing situation, I always go away and cut myself off from the world. Also, I sober up shortly when there is fairly bad news in my life; I never face it with alcohol in my brain. I just rented a house in Palm Springs and sit there and just gone through for a couple of weeks. I went through there until I was strong enough to face it.”
- “God knows I’ve got so many defects myself, I sought to be able to understand and forgive them in others. But I don’t.”
- “Maybe, in the final judgment, they saw me as something I wasn’t and I struggled to turn them into something they could never be. I liked them all but maybe I never admitted any of them. I don’t think they understood me.”
- “I have only one law in acting trust the director, and give him heart and soul.”
- “Hell, I suppose if you stick around long enough they have to say something good about you.”
- “Deep down, I’m pretty superficial.”
- “I think the main reason my marriages failed is that I always loved too well but never wisely.”
- “I want to remember it all, the good times and the bad times, the late nights, the boozing, the dancing into dawns, and all the great and not-so-great people I met and loved in those years”
- “Our phone bills were astronomical, and when I found the letters Frank wrote to me the other day, the total could fill a suitcase. Every single day during our relationship, no matter where in the world I was, I’d get a telegram from Frank saying he loved me and missed me. He was a man who was desperate for companionship and love. Can you wonder that he always had mine!”
- “I hate cheating. I won’t put up with it. I don’t do it myself.”
- “Great idea,” I said. “Call the police. Call the fucking police.”
- “Don’t think for a minute that bad publicity and endless criticism don’t leave their claw marks on everyone concerned. Your friends try to cheer you up by saying lightly, “I suppose you get used to it and ignore it.” You try. You try damned hard. But you never get used to it. It always wounds and hurts.”
- “I’m here to tell you, there ain’t much forgiveness in that old-time religion. That particular savior was a mean son of a bitch. If you sinned, honey, he was going to get you, no doubt about it.”
- “And I won ’em back fair and square. So what are you going to do about it? Want to fight? Who wants the first bloody nose?”
- “He will always be my Sir Galahad.”
- “In one scene, when I was expected to say, “In a pig’s eye you are,” what came out was, “In a pig’s ass you are.” Old habits die awfully hard.”
- “And the news got worse. It emerged that there was this whole other person Jesus Christ whose birthday a lot of people influenced to confuse with mine. I was personally outraged. It was a long time before I forgave the Lord for that.”
- “So this was where lust was satisfied. If I’d been an old-time miner I’d have asked for my gold nugget back.”
- “I caught his drift, but I wasn’t going to argue for a single second. Just get me to the Hampshire House, that’s all I cared about. Besides, how could I say, “No, I’m not a pr*stitute I’m Mrs. Frank Sinatra out for an early morning walk in the rain”?”
- “I either write the books or sell the jewels, and I’m kinda sentimental about the jewels.”
- “Then, aided by the booze, like a fool I tossed off one of those throwaway lines that would have been better thrown away. “Ah, Frank! I thought you were going to be down here fucking Lana.”
- “He always called me Daughter. It was to distinguish me from his sister Ava. I loved being called Daughter. It sounded so possessive, and to be possessed when you are a child is just a wonderful feeling. It makes you feel safe. It makes you feel loved.”
Ava Gardner Movies And TV Shows
- Her sister’s husband, Larry Tarr, a professional photographer took pictures of the highly beautiful teenager which he sent to the MGM Studio. Affected by her beauty, Al Altman, the head of MGM’s New York Talent Department asked her for an interview and offered her a contract in 1941.
- During her primary years, she got only small appearances in the MGM movies. She performed up to 15 minor parts before her career originally took off. She was lent to Universal Studios which cast her as the seductress Kitty Collins in the film noir, ‘The Killers’ in 1946. This was the breakthrough role that got her acting skills noticed.
- She was chosen to perform the character of Julie Laverne in the musical ‘Show Boat’ in 1951. The film was a commercial success. It was followed by her characters in ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ (1952), ‘Lone Star’ (1952), and ‘Mogambo’ (1953).
- In 1954, she emerged in what would become her signature film, ‘The Barefoot Contessa’ which rounded around the story of a fictional Spanish s*x symbol, Maria Vargas. The movie also had Humphrey Bogart in the cast.
- She worked along with Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire, and Anthony Perkins in the post-apocalyptic drama film, ‘On the Beach’ in 1959. The story was set in the future, months after World War III which had destroyed the whole northern hemisphere.
- She had collaborated with Kirk Douglas in the political thriller, ‘Seven Days in May’ in 1964. The story was inspired by the right-wing anti-Communist political activities of General Edwin A. Walker after his resignation from the military.
- She emerged in the film ‘The Night of the Iguana’ in 1964 which was based upon a Tennessee Williams play.
- The story rounded around an atheist clergyman, a gentle artist, and an aged poet.
- During the 1970s she formed a penchant for disaster movies and acted in quite a few of them: ‘Earthquake’ (1974), ‘The Cassandra Crossing’ (1976), and ‘City on Fire’ (1979).
Shadow of the Thin Man
H. M. Pulham, Esq.
Babes on Broadway
|1942||Joe Smith, American|
This Time for Keeps
We Do It Because
Kid Glove Killer
Calling Dr. Gillespie
Mighty Lak a Goat
Reunion in France
|1943||Du Barry Was a Lady|
Ghosts on the Loose
|1944||Two Girls and a Sailor|
Three Men in White
Maisie Goes to Reno
|1945||She Went to the Races|
|1948||One Touch of Venus|
The Great Sinner
East Side, West Side
|1951||My Forbidden Past|
Pandora and the Flying Dutchman
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
|1953||The Band Wagon|
Knights of the Round Table
|1954 ||The Barefoot Contessa|
|1957||The Little Hut|
The Sun Also Rises
|1958||The N*ked Maja|
|1959 ||On the Beach|
|1960||The Angel Wore Red|
|1963||55 Days at Peking|
|1964||Seven Days in May|
The Night of the Iguana
|1966||The Bible: In the Beginning|
|1972||The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean|
|1975||Permission to Kill|
|1976||The Blue Bird|
The Cassandra Crossing
|1979||City on Fire|
|1980||The Kidnapping of the President|
|1981 ||Priest of Love|
TV Shows & Serials List
The Long Hot Summer
After a lifetime of smoking, Gardner underwent from emphysema and lupus. Two strokes in 1986 left her moderately paralyzed and bedridden. Although Gardner could afford her medical expenses, Sinatra wished to pay for her visit to a specialist in the United States, and she granted him to make the arrangements for a medically staffed private plane.
She went through a bad fall a week before she died, and she lay on the floor, alone and unable to move until her housekeeper returned. Her last words (to her housekeeper) were revealed: “I’m so tired.” She died of pneumonia at the age of 67, at her London home, 34 Ennismore Gardens, where she had resided since 1968.
Gardner was buried in the Sunset Memorial Park, Smithfield, North Carolina, next to her siblings and their parents, Jonas and Molly Gardner. In the town of Smithfield, there is the Ava Gardner Museum incorporated in 1996.
- In 1995, the Empire magazine placed her on the 68th spot in a list featuring 100 S*xiest Stars in the film history.
- She especially gained flamenco for her character in the movie, The Barefoot Contessa. Even after the shooting was done for the movie, she continued acting it, and that finally became such a big pastime for her that Ava used to stay occupied dancing through the nights.
- She was regularly called by MGM for an audition. She was 18 years old at that time. In 1941, she signed a standard deal with MGM and moved to Hollywood with her sister Beatrice joining her.
- In 1968, she shifted to London and went through an elective hysterectomy as she was worried about contracting uterine cancer, which had previously challenged her mother’s life.
- In her later years, she suffered from emphysema, which was brought on by her lifelong smoking habit. She was also diagnosed with an unidentified auto-immune disorder.
- In 1986, she suffered from 2 strokes, which left her bedridden and partially paralyzed.
- A week before her death, she suffered a bad fall after which she was unable to move and was forced to stay lying on the floor alone for a long time before her housekeeper discovered her.
- In February 1960, she was honored with her Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1560 Vine Street in Hollywood.
- While she was living in Spain, she became a good friend of the legendary writer, Ernest Hemingway. In her career, she had also worked in 3 movies based on Hemingway’s works – The Sun Also Rises, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, and The Killers.
- The American Film Institute included her in their list featuring Greatest Female Stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema.
- She doesn’t have any social media account.
How Old Was Ava Gardner When She Died?
Gardner Died From Pneumonia In London On January 25, 1990, At The Age Of 67. She Was Buried Next To Her Parents In North Carolina.
What Killed Ava Gardner?
Ava Gardner, A North Carolina Sharecropper’s Daughter Who Became One Of The Most Bewitching Movie Actresses In The World, Died Of Pneumonia Yesterday At Her Home In The Kensington Section Of London. She Was 67 Years Old.
What Is Ava Gardner Famous For?
Actress Ava Gardner Was A Sultry Beauty Famous For Playing Femme Fatale Roles, And For Her Marriages To Frank Sinatra, Artie Shaw And Mickey Rooney.
How Many Times Did Ava Gardner Get Marry?
Rooney Was Married Three Times.