The title of this week’s Leggy Lady is taken from a quote about our subject: Ava Gardner. Gardner had a career spanning just over forty years, but her career really picked up in the 1946 adaption of Ernest Hemingway’s short story “The Killers”, was married three times, and was friends with Howard Hughes.
Gardner was a Southern girl, born in North Carolina, and had modest roots. It was only when she was 19 that she was discovered buy a fink posing as a talent scout. (Fink being the only way to refer to someone who posed as a talent scout to pick up cute-but-dumb women.) The title is paraphrased from what Louis B Mayer, the head of MGM, said after seeing her screen test.
In the year the Cigars and Legs series starts, Gardner was in the Barefoot Contessa as Maria Vargas… opposite this author’s favorite actor of all time, Humphrey Bogart.
Her marriages were first to Mickey Rooney, who apparently enjoyed their sex life far more than she did (show of hands, ladies… how familiar is that?) for only around a year. After that, she was briefly married to Artie Shaw — for around a year. Finally, she was married to the chairman of the board himself, Frank Sinatra. That marriage lasted a whole six years. In addition to being the wife of Sinatra, Gardner was apparently much of his inspiration.
Gardner, like most celebrities of the time, smoked for her entire life, and that was part of the end of her: she has emphysema and suffered two strokes, but died of pnuemonia. She was only 67 years old, and was buried back in North Carolina.
Still, she is remembered for many roles and was in many classics. She never won any of the major awards of her time, but was nominated more than once. Also, c’mon, she played a character named Agrippina, how cool is that?