Ava’s oldest brother Raymond was killed when a rifle shell exploded when he was only sixteen months old.
When she was a teenager she had a big crush on future co-star Clark Gable.
When she came to Hollywood the only two books she had read were the Bible and Gone With the Wind. She always felt bad about her lack of education, but made up for it by continual self-education.
When Ava moved to Hollywood, she had such a heavy southern accent that the studio sent her to a speech coach.
Although Ava drank plenty, she did not even like the taste of alcohol. She often drank because she was shy and nervous and it helped her feel at ease in social situations and in front of the camera.
Her second husband, Artie Shaw, wanted her to see an analyst just like he did. She went there for two years and later said it drove her ‘mad’.
There have been plenty of rumors about Ava and Howard Hughes. But despite his best efforts, it was never more than friendship. She did not feel attracted to him, citing his lack of physical hygiene and racist comments.
During her relationship with Frank Sinatra, he bought her a puppy for her birthday, a Corgi she named Rags. For the rest of her life she would always have a Corgi with her. After Rags died, she had Cara and during her final years she had Morgan.
Frank Sinatra was so upset when Ava ended their marriage that he reportedly tried to take his own life. Throughout her life they remained in touch and he was devastated when she passed away. Even his third wife later admitted that he always held a torch for Ava.
She underwent a hysterectomy in 1968 because she was worried about contracting uterine cancer, the disease that had taken her mother’s life.
There is an Ava Gardner Museum of memorabilia in Smithfield, North Carolina.
It is said that Frank Sinatra had to pay for her medical expenses towards the end of her life. But this is not true. Frank was upset when Ava’s health started to decline and he wanted her to see a specialist in America. So he voluntarily arranged everything, even a medically staffed private plane.
Ava did not only become a good friend of Ernest Hemmingway, she appeared in three films based on his stories as well: The Sun Also Rises, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Killers.
Ava’s closest companions in her final years were her housekeeper Carmen Vargas and her dog Morgan. Her good friend and former co-star Gregory Peck took them both in after her death.
Ava was pretty tired of acting in the final 15 years of her life and when a reporter asked her why she continued acting, she gave her most famous quote: “I do it for the loot, honey—always for the loot.”