Our recent blogs about Ava Gardner’s and her three husbands drew some reader mail — which we pay close attention to — particularly wondering about her choice of Mickey Rooney as husband No. 1.

Hello, everybody.  Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here today to try and come up with the right response to our first contribution from Dawn:

It stills baffles me that she ever married.. Mickey Rooney.

Fellow MGM star Esther Williams wondered about the very same thing. She wrote in her autobiography — The Million Dollar Mermaid, coauthored by Digby Diehl — that she found Ava’s marriage to the diminutive Rooney (all of 5-feet-2-inches tall) “absolutely unimaginable, at least from a physical point of view.”

But let’s let Ava explain, as she did in her newly published Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations, coauthored by Peter Evans (Simon & Schuster).

When she first met Rooney, Ava was put off by his shortness but “there was definitely something appealing about him. He had thick, red-blond wavy hair, crinkly Irish green eyes and a grin that was…well, it definitely wasn’t innocent, honey, I can tell that!”

Regular correspondent Mike Sheridan endorses, sort of, Ava’s view:

Mickey Rooney in his day was a real stud, hanging out with Wallace Beery, Phil Silvers, Spence Tracy and their crowds had Mick up there with Gable and the rest. From Lana Turner to Norma Shearer with PLENTY of Ava Gardners in between. A brand new blue 1938 Lincoln (a present from Henry Ford) had the girls reeling and at his feet.

Paul lumps Rooney with husband No. 2 (bandleader Artie Shaw) and husband No. 3 (Frank Sinatra):

I think it shows what an interesting person she was to marry these three guys. And boy, she must have really loved music. I find Ava to be one of the most enjoyable actresses to watch, even in her less than stellar roles. Thanks for the fun info!

Yes, Gardner did indeed love good music, especially jazz.  She used to regard herself “trailer trash” from North Carolina.  But she was a complex and immensely sophisticated woman despite (or perhaps because of) her three husbands.

Audrey Hepburn has drawn reader responses, not about her choice of husbands (she had two) but about her movies.  In response to our AUDREY HEPBURN’S Best Movies? blog of June 17, Nick del Vecchio writes:

Roman Holiday’ is certainly one of her best. But it’s ‘The Nun’s Story’ in which Hepburn expresses Sister Luke’s repressed emotional turmoil throughout the film. Her stoic looks and body language at the film’s end is truly heartrending.

Audrey agreed with you, Nick.  The Nun’s Story was her favorite of her movies. And, by the way, Hepburn was 4-1/2 inches taller than Mickey Rooney. They appeared in one film together, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but never side by side. Rooney’s (now seemingly stereotypical) character merely screamed at Holly Golightly from atop the stairs.


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