Let’s not fool ourselves here, this isn’t really a blog post but is, instead, an excuse to look at pictures of the insanely beautiful screen siren Ava Gardner and for me to whine about why today’s plastic fantastic stars aren’t fit to tie Ava’s shoelaces.
A few years ago I read Lee Server’s unputdownable biog of Gardner, Love is Nothing (a shorter version of Ava’s famous quote “love is nothing but a pain in the ass” – and how right she was) and she has been one of my movie (and life) heroes ever since.
Ava led the kind of life Hollywood flicks are made of; from being plucked from obscurity in her native North Carolina when her picture was spotted in a photography studio window (she actually never sought fame, instead dreaming of becoming a secretary. Seriously.) to starring opposite heavyweights like Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable to setting the template for femme fatales in The Killers to escaping Hollywood and dabbling in bullfighting alongside Hemingway. I mean, how has no one turned Ava Gardner’s life into a blockbuster? It’s one I’d watch. Over and over again. And realise how boring my life is.
She was strong, witty, beautiful, unpredictable, cursed like a sailor, was the kind of woman men fall in love with just seeing her walk down the street. She was the type of woman I could go drinking with – and who’d drink me under the table. She was the definition of a broad. She was sweet but no fool, sexy but not brash and unapologetic in her magnetism. What’s not to love?
Anyway, I fully intend on doing a blog post on Ava’s best movie roles at some point (anything to talk about my love of Mogambo) but until then, here’s some quotes by (and classic pics of) the great lady herself:
On being a country girl at heart: “Because I was promoted as a sort of a siren and played all those sexy broads, people made the mistake of thinking I was like that off the screen. They couldn’t have been more wrong.”
“Deep down, I’m pretty superficial.”
On being lazy – and loving it: “I don’t understand people who like to work and talk about it like it was some sort of goddamn duty. Doing nothing feels like floating on warm water to me. Delightful, perfect. “
As someone who acted from the 1940s until four years before her death in 1990, what would Ava’s acting tip be? “I have only one rule in acting – trust the director and give him heart and soul.” If only she gave tips on how to arch your brows in a withering fashion…
In the spirit of Hollywood, Ava married three times: first to child star Mickey Rooney, second to Artie Shaw, who didn’t exactly treat her well, and lastly to Frank Sinatra, who many consider to be the great love of her life. On the topic of marriage: “I suffered, I really suffered, with all three of my husbands. And I tried damn hard with all three, starting each marriage certain that it was going to last until the end of my life. Yet none of them lasted more than a year or two. ….I think the main reason my marriages failed is that I always loved too well but never wisely.”
On Hollywood lives: “I haven’t taken an overdose of sleeping pills and called my agent. I haven’t been in jail, and I don’t go running to the psychiatrist every two minutes. That’s something of an accomplishment these days”
When asked about getting plastic surgery: “What’s the point? My face, shall we say, looks lived in. “
On first dipping her toe into acting waters: “After my screen test, the director clapped his hands gleefully and yelled: “She can’t talk! She can’t act! She’s sensational!””
On why she acted: “For the loot, honey, for the loot.”
On her reputation as a party animal: “I must have seen more sunrises than any other actress in the history of Hollywood.”
Ava being wonderful and flirty on What’s My Line?