Ava Lavinia Gardner was an American movie actress born on December 24, 1922. She was best known for her role in “The Killers” (1946), “The Night of the Iguana” (1964), and several others. Gardner’s career goes back to 1941 when she signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer. She was a talented actress who established herself in the 1950s. So, join us to celebrate her life, success, and legacy on her birthday today.
Ava Lavinia Gardner
December 24, 1922
January 25, 1990 (age 67)
Ava Lavinia Gardner was born on December 24, 1922, in Grabtown, North Carolina, to Mary Elizabeth and Jonas Bailey Gardner, poor tobacco sharecroppers. She was of English and Scots-Irish descent, born into a large family, and had six siblings. When she was young, her parents lost their home. They then relocated to Newport News, Virginia. In 1938, Gardner’s father died. She was 15, and the family moved to Rock Ridge, where she went to high school, graduating in 1939.
Gardner’s career began when she visited her sister in 1940, and her brother-in-law, a photographer, decided to take her portraits. The images turned out so well that he hoisted them in front of his shop, which attracted the interest of a lawyer who asked them to send her details to M.G.M. Gardner got interviewed by M.G.M. and offered a standard contract by the production company. In 1942, she made her feature film debut in “We Are Dancing.” In “Ghosts on the Loose” the following year, Gardner received her first screen credit. Gardner’s femme fatale role in “The Killers” (1946) earned her prominence. In the ‘50s, she appeared in “Show Boat” (1951), “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” (1952), “Bhowani Junction” (1956), e.t.c. In the ‘60s, she played Soledad in “The Angel Wore Red” (1960) and Maxine Faulk in the critically acclaimed “The Night of the Iguana” (1964). Gardner’s performance as Faulk earned her a Golden Globe ‘Best Actress’ nomination and a BAFTA ‘Best Leading Actress’ nomination.
Gardner was a fantastic actress who appeared in 70 film productions. Her last role was as Diane Webb in the T.V. movie “Maggie” (1986). As a famous actress, there was nothing private about Gardner’s personal life. She married Mickey Rooney in 1942, and they divorced the following year. Her second marriage was to Artie Shaw from 1945 to 1946. In 1951, Gardner married singer Frank Sinatra, and in 1957, they divorced. Before her death, Gardner suffered illnesses that made her partially paralyzed. She died on January 25, 1990, from fibrosing alveolitis and pneumonia. Gardner was survived by family and friends and did not have children.
Gardner appears in “We Are Dancing.”
Gardner plays the femme fatale role in “The Killers.”
Gardner plays Jones in “Bhowani Junction.”
Gardner plays Faulk in “The Night of the Iguana.”
Gardner plays Webb in “Maggie.”
Why We Love Ava Gardner
She was talented
Gardner was very talented. Her extensive filmography proves her hard work and profound acting skills.
She supported the Civil Rights Movement
Gardner was an avid supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. Her assistant was African-American, and she often took her to white-only clubs.
She was stunning
Songs were inspired by Gardner's gorgeous appearance and piercing green eyes. She was outstanding. .
5 Surprising Facts
She was an atheist
Although Gardner was raised Baptist, she became an atheist in her later life.
She had a speech coach
Gardner got offered a speech coach as her Carolina drawl was incomprehensible to producers.
She had a hysterectomy
Gardner had a hysterectomy to limit her chances of uterine cancer, which claimed her mother’s life.
Sinatra left his wife for Gardner
Sinatra left his wife, Nancy, for Gardner.
She had abortions
Gardner had two abortions while she was married to Sinatra because of M.G.M.'s restrictions on celebrities having children.
Ava Gardner FAQs
What did Ava Gardner say about Frank Sinatra?
Gardner reportedly called Sinatra the “love of her life.”
How long were Ava and Frank Sinatra married?
They were married for six years.
Where in North Carolina is Ava Gardner buried?
The Ava Gardner Museum is located at 325 E. Market St., Smithfield. Gardner’s burial site is located one mile northeast of the museum at the corner of Market St. and NC-210 W.
Ava Gardner’s birthday dates