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Great Hollywood Romances: Ava Gardner & Frank Sinatra



Claim to Fame: “We were always great in bed,” Ava Gardner smirked about her marriage to Frank Sinatra. “The trouble usually started on the way to the bidet.” Stormy didn’t begin to describe this relationship; only Taylor and Burton, a decade later, could match the epic proportions of their fervor–and their fights.

Why They Matter: Sex symbol Gardner was a 26-year-old, twice-married (to Mickey Rooney and Artie Shaw) sharecropper’s daughter from North Carolina. Bobby-soxer idol Sinatra was a 33-year-old married father of three. When they met in 1948, sparks flew. By the time they married three years later, they were a full-blown bonfire. Equally volatile, hot-tempered and passionate, Frank and Ava split in 1953 (although they didn’t divorce until 1957).

Postscript: Sinatra, who reportedly attempted suicide after one of his blowout battles with Ava, remarried–first to Mia Farrow, then to Barbara Marx (Zeppo’s former wife). Gardner moved to London and took up with a succession of bullfighters and playboys, but never again found a soul mate. She died in 1990, Sinatra in 1998.

Love Note: For years after their split, Sinatra kept a picture of Gardner taped to his mirror.