Friday, December 18, 2009

Will You Enter and Sign In, Please?

Yes, our latest Mystery Guest was, indeed, the luscious Ava Gardner. If the adjective "smoldering" hadn't yet been invented, then it would have had to have been coined to describe La Gardner. For our money, she completely surpassed her immediate predecessors and contemporaries (Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth and Elizabeth Taylor) in nearly every department: looks, glamour, elegance and talent. She certainly was never the critics' darling, and never seemed to think much of her own abilities; but given strong material and a capable director, and Gardner brought not only her sensual, sexually-charged presence to the proceedings, but also an earthy honesty and surprising tenderness.

Widely acknowledged as one of the screen's great beauties from the very beginning of her career, by the late 1950's, Gardner was accused of allowing hard living, heavy drinking and rough loving to adversely affect her looks. In our humble opinion, the aging Gardner's looks may have changed, but didn't diminish. If anything, her bearing became more regal, while her allure was made even more erotically powerful by her maturity and experience.

After leaving the protection of her MGM contract in 1958 (she had called Metro "home" since 1941), and only occasionally leaving her adopted country of Spain, Gardner only made sporadic film appearances; On the Beach (1959) and The Night of the Iguana (1964) were worthwhile productions, while the majority of the rest were made "strictly for the loot," as Gardner blithely explained.

In 1985, Gardner had one last glamorous hurrah when she guest starred on five episodes of Knots Landing, still exuding the star power which had led to her being dubbed "The World's Most Beautiful Animal" decades earlier. Five years later, she was dead from pneumonia at age 67 - "The Last Goddess," trumpeted the People magazine cover story on her passing. Few members of Hollywood's fabled golden sorority deserved that sobriquet more.

A visitor from France, Dsata, was the first to guess La Gardner's identity (and we're loving her blog!) - the photo, by John Engstead, was formatted in such a way that we and normadesmond felt it obscured Gardner's instantly recognizable features; the original proof is below.

So, dear Dsata, you have your choice of a prize: would you prefer a Barefoot Contessa, or a Naked Maja? Or perhaps you'd simply like us to Bhowani your junction.


  1. I completely agree that Miss Gardner became more alluring as she aged, but I am also not 100% buying that she could have sired someone who looked like William Devane! (On KL, with Howard Duff as the father, no less?!)

  2. Thanks for the blog post-great write up on Ava. Just wanted to correct a quick thing-Ava died on January 25, 1990 (almost 20 years ago!) of bronchial pnuemonia, an illness she had been fighting off and on for several years. Due to years of smoking, she rarely went very far without her oxygen tank. She passed away in her sleep-her last words to her housekeeper Carmen Vargas was "I'm tired."

    For more information on the life and career of Ava Gardner, visit the Ava Gardner Museum's website

  3. Thank you for the correction - I don't know why I had "heart attack" stuck in my head as the cause of Miss Ava's demise.

  4. Recently read her bio. My favorite part was her concerned lecture to a female friend about Spain after the allure of both the country and it's people had worn thin for her.

    "The men all have little dicks and they'll stick 'em up your ass before you can get your panties off."

  5. lol at felix.

    I'd like to read that in Frommers.