Sign in. Born on a tobacco farm, where she got her lifelong love of earthy language and going barefoot, Ava grew up in the rural South. At age 18, her picture in the window of her brother-in- law's New York photo studio brought her to the attention of MGM, leading quickly to Hollywood and a film contract based strictly on her beauty. With zero acting experience, her first 17 film roles, , were one-line bits or little better. Few of her best films were made at MGM which, keeping her under contract for 17 years, used her popularity to sell many mediocre films.
Although equally as well known for her beauty and her famous husbands as she was for her acting one Oscar nomination, no wins , Ava Gardner nevertheless gave many memorable performances during her year career. Ava caught MGM's eye as a beautiful teenager and was playing bit parts in films by the time she was She landed her first starring role in Whistle Stop , then made a splash that same year in The Killers, co-starring with Burt Lancaster. But it wasn't until when John Ford cast her in Mogambo with Clark Gable that her true talent emerged, gaining her one Oscar nomination, for Best Actress. Her marriages were even bigger news than her films. During her marriage to Sinatra, she had to lend him money, since it was during a low point in his career. Sinatra, in turn, paid all her medical expenses after her stroke in , even though they were no longer married.
She was given a screen test, in which her lack of refinement and barely intelligible thick drawl prompted MGM studio chief Louis B. Sign her. Her big break came when the studio loaned her to Universal Pictures for the film noir classic The Killers , in which Gardner played a duplicitous seductress opposite screen newcomer Burt Lancaster. Gardner endured tempestuous, well-publicized marriages to actor Mickey Rooney —43 and bandleader Artie Shaw —46 ; her marriage to singer-actor Frank Sinatra —57 , a relationship characterized by passion and jealousy in equal measure, was one of the most storied Hollywood romances of the century. Ava Gardner.
In the first week of January , Ava Gardner asked me to ghost her memoirs. Since I had never met Ava Gardner, the call, late on a Sunday evening, was clearly a hoax. I should have said no right there. I was working 15 hours a day to finish my third novel.