"The most complete and engrossing biography yet of this exotic Southern girl...Excellent."―Liz Smith
She was the sex symbol who dazzled all the other sex symbols. She was the temptress who drove Frank Sinatra to the brink of suicide and haunted him to the end of his life. Ernest Hemingway saved one of her kidney stones as a sacred memento, and Howard Hughes begged her to marry him―but she knocked out his front teeth instead.
She was one of the great icons in Hollywood history―star of The Killers, The Barefoot Contessa, and The Night of the Iguana―and one of the few whose actual life was grander and more colorful than any movie. Her jaw-dropping beauty, charismatic presence, and fabulous, scandalous adventures fueled the legend of Ava Gardner―Hollywood's most glamorous, restless and uninhibited star.
"A seductive book."―The New York Times
"Deliciously entertaining."―Publishers Weekly
"Irresistible and finally heartbreaking."―The Newark Star-Ledger
In this acclaimed first full biography of Gardner, Lee Server recreates―with great style and vivid detail―the actress's life, from her beginnings as a barefoot North Carolina farm girl to her heady days as a Hollywood goddess. He paints the full spectacle of her tumultuous private life―including her string of failed marriages to Mickey Rooney, Sinatra and Artie Shaw―and Gardner's lifelong search for adventure and love.
Ava Gardner: "Love is Nothing" is both an exceptional work of biography and a richly entertaining read.
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Men literally had to support themselves against buildings when she walked by—she was that beautiful. Ava Gardner was the greatest sex symbol of her time, and also a bad girl who became the obsession of many of the biggest names of her day—including Frank Sinatra, Ernest Hemingway, and Howard Hughes. She drank, fought, and slept around with the best of them. She married some, too. Mickey Rooney, the biggest star on the MGM lot, was her first husband; he’d chased her from the moment he saw her, fresh off the train from North Carolina by way of Manhattan, with her sister as her chaperone. Second husband Artie Shaw, the charismatic, cold-blooded bandleader, played Pygmalion to Ava, but also never let her forget that he considered her his inferior. Then there was Sinatra, whose jealousy she battled—often physically—from the Cocoanut Grove to Palm Springs, but whose dreams she haunted for the rest of his life.
Ava Gardner: “Love Is Nothing” paints a fresh, stylish portrait of an actress who starred in The Killers, The Sun Also Rises, and The Night of the Iguana and who was the original Barefoot Contessa. It also repositions the talented star as more than just tabloid fodder. The most alluring woman of the 1950’s, a famously conservative time, lived life like a man—drinking, brawling, moving around the world to pursue her passions for lovers and other cultures. Her love of bullfighting—and bullfighters—led to a dramatic stint in Spain, which culminated in being thrown out of the Ritz in Madrid and a fall from a bull that permanently scarred that famous face. Gardner’s last years were spent in London; Server’s chapters about that solitary time in her life, when disease sprang up and attention died down, are raw and moving.
A rich biography of a woman at the peak of her powers, Ava Gardner: “Love is Nothing” is prodigiously researched and laced with fascinating details of a life, as well as of a time and a universe that encompasses Hollywood in its heyday, North Carolina’s tobacco country, New York, London, Madrid, Africa and Mexico.
LEE SERVER is a writer and biographer whose previous book, Robert Mitchum: "Baby, I Don't Care," was named a Best Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times.
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