About Ava Gardner

Named by the American Film Institute as one of the 25 most popular actresses of all time, Ava Gardner was an icon of the Twentieth Century. Whether it was acting or modeling, Ava turned heads and captured hearts all over the world. While she was visiting her sister in New York, an image of Ava displayed in the window of her brother-in-law’s photography studio on Fifth Avenue caught the attention of an errand clerk for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), leading to a 7 year movie contract with MGM in 1941 at age 18.


The Killers made her an overnight sensation and led to other roles alongside Hollywood legends such as Clark Gable, Gregory Peck, and Humphrey Bogart. MGM chose Ava over several screen legends to portray Julie Laverne in Show Boat, one of the greatest musicals of all time. When The Barefoot Contessa was released in 1954, Ava was billed as "the most beautiful animal in the world." By then she had achieved international stardom. 


Besides her famous look, including her bright red lipstick and stunning green eyes, Ava is also remembered for her marriages to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and Frank Sinatra. Since her passing, her Estate’s Trust has passed through several generations of those close to the family and is now managed by her niece and namesake. All Trust funds go to charities designated by Ava. The Ava Gardner Museum in her hometown of Smithfield, NC, keeps her legacy alive with beautiful displays of clothing, photographs, and other memorabilia telling the incredible story of the farm girl from North Carolina who became a Hollywood icon.