Again, we ask, the most beautiful actress classic Hollywood ever produced?

The best actress?

Ava Gardner was so good looking that audiences often didn’t care how good a performer she was or wasn’t.  Just being there, up on the big screen, was more than enough.  For the record, Gardner, a country tomboy from rural North Carolina, compiled a 45-year acting career covering nearly 70 movie and tv credits. (There she is with Gregory Peck above.)

How much do you you know about this great star?  Find out by scanning today’s answers to our Ava Gardner Quiz, inspired in large part by author Lee Server’s 2006 biography, Love Is Nothing. (To review the questions, just scroll down to yesterday’s blog.)

Here we go:

1) Answer: b) False. Gardner really did come from a humble country backround. Her father was an itinerant tobacco farmer in North Carolina, and Ava often described herself as “trailor trash.”

2) Answer:  c) No contest.  Lana Turner.  Lana went through seven husbands to Ava’s three.

3) Answer:  Trumpeter Miles Davis, a notoriously difficult personality, fell pretty hard for Ava.  The two dated in the Fifties when she haunted jazz spots in New York City. Davis claimed the affair was never consummated — I just don’t know why it didn’t happen, but it didn’t, even though a lot of people swear that it did. 

4) Answer:  Annette Warren, a professional singer brought in by MGM to dub Ava’s onscreen vocalizing. Gardner was a decent singer in her on own right, possessing a sultry, throaty delivery.  But MGM felt her low-key style would conflict with the more bombastic singing of costars Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson. However, Gardner’s singing was heard on the record of the Show Boat movie soundtrack.

5) Answer:  a) Burt Lancaster.

6) Answer:  b) John Ford, who directed Ava in 1953’s Mogambo. Ford could be tough on actors, but Gardner gave as good as she got.  She and her irascible director wound up friends.

7) Answer:  b) False. Ava was indeed a virgin when she married Mickey Rooney in 1942. She was nervous at first, But I caught on quickly. Very quickly. I enjoyed the whole thing thoroughly. Mickey was tender, actually he was sweet. He couldn’t have been a better first lover for a lady.

8) Answer:  c) Beatrice Gardner, Ava’s older sister by nearly 20 years, who was known simply as “Bappie.” The elder sister was smart, pretty and independent from an early age, and Ava idolized her.  The sisters remained close for life.

9) Answer:  b) False.  Clark Gable, Ava’s Mogambo costar, was then more interested in another young cast member, Grace Kelly. Gable made three movies with Gardner, who had much admired him since girlhood.

10) Answer:  a) True, although the affair wasn’t widely publicized. Robert Mitchum and Ava costarred in 1949’s My Forbidden Past, produced by Howard Hughes. Ava was coy about the affair although Mitchum was more outspoken about the couple’s “forbidden” past. For the record, Ava was unmarried at the time, after husband No. 2 and before No. 3.

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