Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Love is nothing.

Ava was frequently touted as the most naturally beautiful woman ever in Hollywood by insiders and fellow actresses alike.  While pin-ups like Marilyn had undergone plastic surgery, bleaching, removal of eyebrows, heavy cake make up, etc, to ready them for their pictures, leaving them ghostly before heading to the makeup trailer, Ava was naturally endowed with a bone structure to die for (credited to her distant mix of White, American Indian, and Black ancestry) and starred in her first picture The Killers (1946) with only Vaseline on her face to emphasize its contours against the light:  The high cheek bone, the strong jawline to dimpled chin, the deeply arched brow, the dreamy cat eyes, the sculpted cheek, the carved lip bow, all sitting atop a lean, lounging hourglass.

But Grecian symmetry belied the turmoil beneath.   Ava declared that "Love is nothing" after a series of failed relationships, leaving her jaded and lonely when the cameras weren't rolling.

"Thinking that they could use a change of scene and more breathing room, Mickey [Rooney] moved them to a large rented house on Stone Canyon Drive in Bel Air.  It solved nothing.  They simply no longer got along.  They fought when they were alone, they fought in public.  She had been drinking more and more.  It had helped her nerves at the studio, relaxed her at parties.  Now it briefly erased some of the pain of a crumbling marriage and gave her courage to complain.  As drinking became an increasing component in her social life, it was also becoming clear that she was chemically ill-equipped for the amount that she might consume, one of those who with sufficient alcohol in her system could become startlingly transformed, prone to emotional imbalance, paranoia, even violent outbursts, a Jekyll-and-Hyde syndrome, as some would come to describe it.    

Rooney had to wonder:  Where was the bashful farm girl he had helped down off the hay wagon nine or ten months before?  She would tear into him, obscenity-laced complaints; she once threw a heavy inkwell at his head during an argument' at a party-- "juiced on Martinis"-- she flirted and danced intimately with other men, intent on provoking or humiliating him.  Where was the girl? he would wonder.  He was still the same, fun-loving guy she had married.   

One weekend that summer they had gone down across the Mexican border to Tijuana, to the races.  They had had a good day, watching the horses, drinking chilled Tequila with lime.   They drove back to California, a beautiful summer day with a flaming orange sunset at the end.  They got back and wanted to go home after they ate, but Mickey was caught up in his usual whirlwind with a hundred admirers.  Ava drank too much, brooded, became angry, stormed out of the restaurant, and had a taxi drive her home.  Raging from liquor and mounting dissatisfactions, she took a carving knife from the kitchen and went around the living room stabbing and tearing at the sofa cushions and upholstered chairs, leaving clouds of cotton batting floating in the air.  Then Ava went upstairs and got into bed, knowing her marriage was over. 

Mickey returned, less than sober himself, finding everything shredded and overturned."

Text from "Love is Nothing", the amazing biography of Ava Gardner by Lee Server, p. 81.

Photo via HERE.


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