This was originally posted elsewhere on 06/11/2006. Though I cleaned up some parts, it still reads a bit racy. So sensitive eyes, beware.
"It is said men literally had to support themselves against buildings when [Ava Gardner] walked by," writes Lee Server in Love is Nothing. After reading this compelling biography, it’s clear that the men in Ava Gardner’s life were obsessed with her, and it’s easy to understand why. Her talent, charm and feminine beauty combined with her 'I don't give a damn' attitude captivated them.
Ava’s brief marriage to Frank Sinatra and their subsequent relationship is a highlight of the book. Ol’ Blue Eyes was so taken with her he was brought to the edge of insanity. When he was told of her death, he went to his room and sat there alone, all night and well into the next day. He could barely raise his voice above a whisper when he spoke of her. Ava haunted him to the end of his life.
Examples of Ava's sex appeal and her affect on men spice up the book. Server describes how she’d wander around the house she shared with first husband, Mickey Rooney, wearing only her panties and declare, "Let's f---." In filming a love scene with Ava, Burt Lancaster developed a "pitched tent" and had to take a breather much to the amusement of the crew and Ava herself. Server also relates how some men went to great lengths to have a piece of her, like Ernest Hemingway who saved one of Ava’s kidney stones as a memento.
The actress’s real-life adventures rivaled anything in her films. She knew with age she’d lose the appeal that drove men wild, so she lived it up taking no prisoners while she was able. Ava could drink most men under the table and curse with the best of them. Bhawani Junction costar Francis Matthews claimed, "She could go all night, y'know. She was a wild country girl and liked to let her hair down and fling off her shoes and have a good time." There was no reaching this woman or holding her down. By the age of 35, she had already collected three ex-husbands.
Lee Server knows his subject and obviously admires her. In the book's intro, he refers to her as "a carnal, dangerous angel in the chiaroscuro dreamscape of film noir." Server fondly brings Gardner to life as a warm, refreshingly unpretentious star whose appetites eventually did her in—though, she seemed to have had one helluva time getting there.
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