Ava Gardner

Date of Birth 24 December 1922, Grabtown, North Carolina,

USA Date of Death 25 January 1990, Westminster, London, England, UK (bronchial pneumonia)

Birth Name: Ava Lavinia Gardner 

Born on a tobacco farm, where she got her lifelong love of earthy language and going barefoot, Ava grew up in the rural South. At age 18, her picture in the window of her brother-in- law’s New York photo studio brought her to the attention of MGM, leading quickly to Hollywood and a film contract based strictly on her beauty. With zero acting experience, her first 17 film roles, 1942-5, were one-line bits or little better. After her first starring role in B-grade ‘Whistle Stop’ (1946), MGM loaned her to Universal for her first outstanding film, ‘The Killers’ (1946).

Few of her best films were made at MGM which, keeping her under contract for 17 years, used her popularity to sell many mediocre films. Perhaps as a result, she never believed in her own acting ability, but her latent talent shone brightly when brought out by a superior director, as with John Ford in ‘Mogambo’ (1953) and George Cukor in ‘Bhowani Junction’ (1956).

After 3 failed marriages, dissatisfaction with Hollywood life prompted Ava to move to Spain in 1955; most of her subsequent films were made abroad. By this time, stardom had made the country girl a cosmopolitan, but she never overcame a deep insecurity about acting and life in the spotlight.

Her last quality starring film role was in ‘The Night of the Iguana’ (1964), her later work being (as she said) strictly “for the loot”. In 1968, tax trouble in Spain prompted a move to London, where she spent her last 22 years in reasonable comfort. Her film career did not bring her great fulfillment, but her looks may have made it inevitable; many fans still consider her the most beautiful actress in Hollywood history.

By Rod Crawford

Fashion Houses In The 1950′s

1950s Designers

Text by Ashley Kane.

In the post-war 1950′s, high style and fashion returned with the help of these important designers

Christian Dior

Responsible for dramatically changing the style of the 1950s, Dior created the “new look” which used lots of fabric and exaggerated the hourglass shape of the female figure. The new look was in direct contrast to the frugal and plain styles during the war, but women and the fashion industry embraced the move back to glamour.

Cristóbal Balenciaga

Though finding glamour and drama as important as Dior, Balenciaga went in the opposite direction in his silhouettes, making them sleeker and broadening the shoulders and removing emphasis on the waist. This shape gave way to the sack dresses and tunics that became popular in the next decade.

Pierre Balmain

Balmain’s focused on femininity and elegance, creating the quintessential French style of the 1950s.

Charles James

James was most well known for his spectacular gowns, which were often copied for prom and evening wear, and featured intricate constructions and unique color combinations.

Jaques Fath

Fath had a less severe take on the “new look”, with softer hourglass curves and plunging necklines. His designs showed more skin than his contemporaries making him a favorite of the younger and more daring.