V Steamy photos Of Ava Gardner explain why she was the one who broke Frank Sinatra’s heart

Ian Smith
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Ava Gardner was an iconic American actress in the Hollywood golden age. She is listed 25th among the American Film Institute’s 25 Greatest Female Stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema.

Soon after her arrival in Los Angeles, Gardner met fellow MGM contract player Mickey Rooney. They married on January 10, 1942, when she was 19 years old and he was 21. The ceremony was held in the remote town of Ballard, California, because MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer was worried that fans would desert Rooney’s Andy Hardy movie series if it became known that their star was married. Largely due to Rooney’s serial adultery, Gardner divorced him in 1943, but agreed not to reveal the cause so as not to affect his career.

Circa 1950's. American actress Ava Gardner poses for a photograph a black lace basque and fish net tights.

Circa 1950’s. American actress Ava Gardner poses for a photograph a black lace basque and fish net tights.

 

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Ava Gardner 1955-02-21 at Kastrup Airport CPH, Copenhagen

Ava Gardner 1955-02-21 at Kastrup Airport CPH, Copenhagen

 

Ava Gardner from Eiga no Tomo (December 1953)

Ava Gardner from Eiga no Tomo (December 1953)

 

Ava Gardner in Costume for Albert Lewin's Pandora and the Flying Duchman, 1950 Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Ava Gardner in Costume for Albert Lewin’s Pandora and the Flying Duchman, 1950 Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Gardner’s second marriage was brief as well, to jazz musician and bandleader Artie Shaw, from 1945 to 1946. Shaw had previously been married to Lana Turner. Gardner’s third and last marriage was to singer and actor Frank Sinatra, from 1951 to 1957. She would later say in her autobiography that he was the love of her life. Sinatra left his wife, Nancy, for Gardner and their subsequent marriage made headlines.

Ava Gardner posed with her best pal, ca. 1940s

Ava Gardner posed with her best pal, ca. 1940s

Sinatra was blasted by gossip columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, the Hollywood establishment, the Roman Catholic Church, and by his fans for leaving his wife for a noted femme fatale. Gardner used her considerable influence, particularly with Harry Cohn, to get Sinatra cast in his Oscar-winning role in From Here to Eternity (1953). That role and the award revitalized both Sinatra’s acting and singing careers.

 

Ava Gardner rides a bike, 1952

Ava Gardner rides a bike, 1952

 

The Gardner-Sinatra marriage was tumultuous. Gardner confided to Artie Shaw, her second husband, that “With him [Frank] it’s impossible…it’s like being with a woman. He’s so gentle. It’s as though he thinks I’ll break, as though I’m a piece of Dresden china and he’s gonna hurt me.” [12] During their marriage Gardner became pregnant twice, but aborted both pregnancies. “MGM had all sorts of penalty clauses about their stars having babies,” she said.She said years later, “We couldn’t even take care of ourselves. How were we going to take care of a baby?” Gardner remained good friends with Sinatra for the remainder of her life.

Gardner became a friend of businessman and aviator Howard Hughes in the early- to mid-1940s, and the relationship lasted into the 1950s. Gardner stated in her autobiography, Ava: My Story, that she was never in love with Howard Hughes, but he was in and out of her life for about twenty years. Hughes’s trust in Gardner was what kept their relationship alive. She describes him as “painfully shy, completely enigmatic and more eccentric…than anyone [she] had ever met.”

 

Photo of Ava Gardner from her role in Show Boat.

Photo of Ava Gardner from her role in Show Boat.

 

 

After Gardner divorced Sinatra in 1957, she headed for Spain, where she began a friendship with writer Ernest Hemingway (she had starred in his The Sun Also Rises that year, and several years earlier, Hemingway had successfully urged producer Darryl F. Zanuckto cast Gardner in The Snows of Kilimanjaro, a film which adapted several of his short stories). While staying with Hemingway at his villa in San Francisco de Paula in Havana, Cuba, Gardner once swam alone without a swimsuit in his pool. After watching her, Hemingway ordered to his staff: “The water is not to be emptied”. Her friendship with Hemingway led to her becoming a fan of bullfighting and bullfighters, such as Luis Miguel Dominguín, who became her lover. “It was a sort of madness, honey”, she later said of the time.

Gardner was also involved in a relationship with her live-in boyfriend and companion, American actor Benjamin Tatar, who worked in Spain as a foreign-language dubbing director.Tatar later wrote an autobiography in which he discussed his relationship with Gardner, though the book was never published.