Ava becomes a FILM STAR
For nearly half a century, Ava Gardner wowed audiences in over 60 film and television productions. While her natural beauty helped launch her career at the tender age of 18, it was her innate talent and earthy, magnetic screen presence in classic films like The Killers 1946), Show Boat (1951), Mogambo (1953), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), and The Night of the Iguana (1964) that ultimately made her an international star. During her career, she received recognition and accolades from critics, fans, and film festivals the world over earning Oscar, Golden Globe, and BAFTA acting nominations along the way. At the peak of her studio career, Ava left her hand and footprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and, in 1960, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ava has been celebrated with historical markers in the U.S. and England, a bronze statue of her overlooks the coast of Spain, and she’s been featured on stamps in at least eight countries. The American Film Institute named Ava one of the 50 greatest screen legends of the 20th Century.
Ava as a STYLE ICON
From the moment Ava Gardner first stepped in front of a camera, her striking appearance and the confidence she instinctively exuded led her to become a highly sought-after model for the top designers of her day. Award-winning Hollywood costumers like Irene Lentz, Walter Plunkett, Orry-Kelly, and Edith Head as well as haute couture houses like the Fontana Sisters, Christian Dior, and Balenciaga all dressed Ava. As her career progressed, she transcended the confines of the big screen to become an international fashion and style icon, filling the pages of magazines and newspapers around the globe. Look at any star-studded red carpet or designer runway today, and you can still see her lasting influence on the world of fashion.
Ava remains a ROLE MODEL
Ava Gardner portrayed daring, tenacious characters in nearly every film genre – comedy, drama, film noir, horror, musical, western, and many more. The diverse range of strong-willed women she brought to life onscreen only enhanced the public’s fascination with the real Ava off screen. She often defied contemporary expectations in her private life, making bold choices to do things on her own terms, independently and courageously. As a result, she was far ahead of her time, and she continues to resonate with women everywhere, as both a modern-day touchstone and an inspiring example to be one’s authentic self. Even today, 30 years since her passing, her life and cultural impact continue to be the subject of countless magazine articles, podcasts, films, and best-selling books. Her remarkable story inspires the creation of tribute websites, videos, and blogs. Her striking image fills social media feeds on a daily basis.
Ava's legacy as a HUMANITARIAN
Throughout her award-winning career, she never forgot her humble beginnings in the rural, segregated communities of the Depression-era South. Once she achieved professional success, Ava contributed her time, money, and celebrity status to social, political, and humanitarian causes near to her heart. In the 1960s, she became a lifetime member of the NAACP, and she contributed to special events designed to benefit underserved communities of color. She also raised funds for philanthropic organizations like the March of Dimes, the American Cancer Society, and the American Red Cross. Beyond the public eye, she showed her compassion by advocating for her diverse group of friends and close acquaintances in more direct and intimate ways. In her final years, she directed her estate’s trust to commit all future funds earned to non-profits and charities which advance medical research and animal welfare. Her legacy of generosity continues today through the work of the Ava Gardner Trust which supports St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Queen Victoria Hospital, and the Ava Gardner Museum.