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Ava as a Girl






   December 24, 1922

Ava Lavinia Gardner is born seven miles east of Smithfield, North Carolina to Jonas and Mollie Gardner.



After living at the Teacherage from age 2 to 13, Ava moves with her parents to Newport News, Virginia.



Ava's father, Jonas Gardner, dies from a prolonged illness and Ava and her mother move back to North Carolina. 


Summer of 1939

Ava visits her sister Bappie in New York.  While visiting, Bappie's husband, Larry Tarr displays an image of Ava in his shop which leads to her discovery byMGM.


August 1941

At the age of 18, Ava is asked to appear for a screen test and Ava signs a seven-year movie contract with MGM studios for fifty dollars a week.


Ava and Mickey

January 10, 1942

Ava marries Mickey Rooney in a small wedding with only immediate family and studio "body guards" in attendance.


May 21, 1943

Ava divorces Mickey Rooney.  The day is further saddened by the death of her mother, Mollie.


October 17, 1945

Ava marries her second husband, big band leader Artie Shaw.  


August 28, 1946

After over 20 movies where she played bit parts and still being considered a "starlet," Ava stars in The Killers, which launches her career as a star.


October 25, 1946

Like her first marriage, Ava's marriage to Artie Shaw ends in divorce after one year.


August 27, 1947

Continuing her rise to stardom, Ava stars with her idol, Clark Gable, in The Hucksters.


September 24, 1951

Ava sings in the big budget production of Show Boat.  Although her voice was dubbed by Annette Warren in the film, her voice is on the soundtrack.


November 7, 1951

After several years of courtship, Ava marries the love of her life, Frank Sinatra.


Frank and Ava


October 9, 1953

Ava receives her first and only Oscar nomination for her role as Honey Bear Kelly in Mogambo.


December 1955

To escape the pressures of Hollywood and the media storm surrounding her troubled marriage with Frank, Ava moves to Spain.


October 29, 1957

Unable to reconcile their differences, Ava and Frank divorce.  People Magazine termed their marriage as one of the "Romances of the Century" and Ava never remarried after their divorce.



After 17 years under contract with MGM, Ava is finally free to choose to do the movies she wants to do.  She had always felt constricted by her contract at MGM and that they had done little to promote her as an actress.


August 6, 1964

Ava receives a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Maxine in the film version of The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams. 



Tax trouble in Spain prompts Ava to pack up and move to London, where she lives the rest of her life at 34 Ennismore Gardens.


January 25, 1990

Ava Lavinia Gardner dies in her sleep from bronchial pneumonia.



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