Beautiful, shining star of the MGM studio, Ava was born into a simple life (a tobacco farm in the rural south), but was destined for greatness. According to reports, when Gardner first arrived at the studio and did a screen test, Louis B. Mayer said "She can't act. She can't talk. She's terrific. Sign her." She got a 7-year contract with MGM and did several films without notice until "The Killers" rose her to sex symbol status and made her a big star.
Her movie and TV career is lengthy, but not as illustrious as her social life. She married three times: to Mickey Rooney when she was only 19-years-old, to big band leader and Hollywood bad boy Artie Shaw, and to the famous crooner Frank Sinatra. She also had affairs with Howard Hughes, George C. Scott, and a couple bullfighters.
Her dramatic romance with Sinatra made her most famous, as their affair began when he was still married. They constantly tried to create drama in their lives; Gardner flirted with Hughes as Sinatra feigned a couple suicide attempts to get her attention. She paid for his expenses as his career suffered, and even flew him out to the set of some of her movies. Overall it is widely believed that Ava was Sinatra's one true love.
After a stroke in 1989, which left her partially paralyzed and bedridden, Sinatra paid all her medical expenses. She died of pneumonia in London at the age of 67 in 1990.