I’m about to hop on a boat to Uruguay (hah! hope you have a nice view in your office). So, here are some words from the ultimate Icon, Ava Gardner, to end her week.
“Deep down, I’m pretty superficial.”
“I must have seen more sunrises than any other actress in the history of Hollywood.”
“When I lose my temper, honey, you can`t find it any place.”
“I wish to live until 150 years old but the day I die, I wish it to be with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of whiskey in the other.”
“All I ever got out of any of my marriages was the two years Artie Shaw financed on an analyst`s couch.”
(That’s what I say about my childhood!)
For you, Ava. For your drinking and your romances and your words of wisdom on marriage. For making me want to perm my hair. For Grecian gowns and silk bikinis and talking honestly about sex. Ava Gardner, the final siren of Hollywood, you’re my icon of the week.
I first fell in love with Ava Gardener during a lecture that Anthony Lane gave on her as part of the New Yorker festival.
Lane is even funnier in person than he is on the page. And it was clear that he adored Ava Gardner with the giddy, worshipful gaze of a sailor at war with only a pin-up to keep him company through the long, dull days out in the ocean. He brought her to life during his talk, and I’ve been humbled by her beauty ever since.
Ava is almost too large of a star to be The Icon just for a week. But if I focus mostly on the things that I’m most interested in- her marriage to Frank Sinatra, her humble beginnings, the way that her beauty far outranks that of Grace Kelly- I can hopefully make you fall in love with her as well.
In The Barefoot Contessa (1954), one of my favorite kitschy Technicolor movies of all time, she plays the role of a poor Spanish girl who is discovered by a movie producer. He makes her into a star, and she starts prancing around draped in diamonds. The producer turns out to be an asshole who controls her life. Eventually, she is saved from the abusive relationship by a Count at a casino in Monte Carlo. He asks her to marry him. And then, the denouement… it turns out the Count was wounded in the war and made impotent, a crucial fact he doesn’t tell Ava until their wedding night. By impotent, I suppose that they mean that his penis was blown off, but one never knows. Ava’s life is somewhat ruined, but she remains beautiful… and hey, in the movies, that’s all that matters.
The crucial thing that you should know about the movie is that Ava’s character speaks Spanish. And I’m studying Spanish right now… are you seeing the relevance? In the end, it’s all about me.
For you, Ava. For studio stills and your Irish/Scotch heritage. For perfect skin and dresses with long slits up the front. For matching Humphrey Bogart, face to face, for all he’s worth, and for being more of a star than any actress that is alive today. Ava Gardner, you’re my icon of the week.