The Ava Gardner Museum is very excited to present a guest blog post from a young Ava Gardner fan from the UK. You can follow Alexandra's Instagram account where she shares about her love of Ava as well as several other classic film actresses @garlandofroses_.
Alexandra with some of her Ava Gardner Museum swag she received as Christmas gifts. Photo used with permission.
Hi my fellow Ava fans! My name is Alexandra, and I’m 16 years old. I’ve been given the opportunity to write for the Official Ava Gardner Blog and tell you what Ava means to me as a young person.
I’ve been an Ava fan for nearly two years, and what a great two years it has been learning about this wonderful woman.
After researching my Star Wars idol Carrie Fisher, I was looking for places to go in London that had connections to Carrie and my other inspirations Debbie Reynolds and Judy Garland. I researched a bit more and saw the UK Blue Heritage Plaques website which had posted about Ava Gardner and Vivien Leigh having plaques in London. I visited Ava’s home, took lots of pictures outside and had a great time. The next day, I watched Mogambo (1953), and I took to ordering her autobiography and reading it to find out more about her. The first thing that I noticed about Ava was her humour. I even used post-it notes to mark my favourite pages where she had said something funny. Page after page showed the layers of her personality, and it was beautiful. To see such a famous woman be so real and authentic on each page was rejuvenating.
Alexandra with her copy of Ava: My Story. Photo used with permission.
As a young girl into Old Hollywood, I always felt different for liking things my friends and peers knew nothing about and that was/is unique for someone my age. There were certain friends I wasn’t open with about what I loved, and I lost some of them along the way because I wasn’t ‘cool’. However, I always stood up for what I believed in and didn’t change; which is coincidently a familiar trait of Ava’s. As I read Ava’s book, I learnt that through Ava’s projection of her true self, not only in her book but in all areas of life, I should be nothing but proud and open about what interested me. The more people I spoke to, be it on social media or in everyday life, about Old Hollywood and the actresses I loved like Ava, they were nothing but complimentary about that era and praised my enthusiasm. Gregory Peck wrote this in Ava’s book, and I love it because it describes her so well, “[Ava] was always outspoken, and there was something refreshing about that because sometimes she’d be outspoken when other people would be afraid to.”
In addition to her openness, something that came with that was Ava’s capability to show her flaws and let us in. Whilst working for MGM, it was common protocol for the studios publicity department to paint a picture of their stars (mostly their actresses) and publish phony articles in magazines with false information listed. Yet in spite of this, Ava didn’t conform to the image they painted of her. Arlene Dahl said, “[Ava] was exactly the opposite of the roles she played. She looked like a femme fatale and she wasn’t.”
In addition to not conforming to the image that was painted of her, Ava purely spoke about what she was like and didn’t apologise, often joking about her Irish temper. She was unapologetically herself.
Ava’s independence was another thing that appealed to me, and still appeals to me. After Ava divorced Mickey Rooney and Artie Shaw, Ava went out unescorted, which in those days was making a statement. To me, this shows the feminist side of Ava. Whilst to my knowledge she wasn’t openly a feminist, going against the grain and being independent as a woman in the 1940s and 50s is showing a message of that kind – that she didn’t care as to be escorted and didn’t care about being unconventional, going out to have a good time was all she cared about.
To summarise, Ava has been a huge inspiration to me, and I love her very much. She is still admired by younger generations, and I think this is a huge honour to her legacy. Ava will be remembered and loved for years to come.
About the Author
Alexandra is a native of Suffolk, England. She loves to read, write, watch classic films and research the Old Hollywood era. She currently studies film, history and English Language, and hopes to attend University to do a Bachelor of the Arts in film and history. Follow her on Instagram @garlandofroses_.