Ava Gardner: Love Is Nothing
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Ava Gardner: Love Is Nothing

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  1,105 ratings  ·  82 reviews
The author of "Baby, I Don't Care," the "New York Times" bestselling biography of Robert Mitchum, takes on the dramatic life of the stunning swaggering star Ava Gardner.
Hardcover, Large Print, 991 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Thorndike Press (first published April 3rd 2006)
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I found this book very interesting but mainly wrote this as a rebuttal to the review of Tara, who said that she was "average," a "crybaby," and "never had to work for anything." All of these descriptions are patently untrue.

"Average?" A look at any picture of her belies this shallow and in my opinion jealous assessment. I'm especially talking about her glorious beauty in her younger years when she had the longer hair---around the times of her marriages to Mickey Rooney and Artie Shaw and the mov...more
Alyson Dickerman
This book made me terribly sad. For all of Ava Gardner's beauty, she could not find happiness. Chronically insecure, shy, lonely, she became dependent on alcohol and everything spiralled from there. Worn down and cheated on by her first husband (a truly slimy portrait of Mickey Rooney), disparaged by her second (a loathsome Artie Shaw), and too volatile a mix with her third (Frank Sinatra, who probably loved her very much, but doesn't cut a very sympathetic figure here) she never found the love...more
I'm not really one for biographies, but this one caught my eye in the library a few years ago and continues to linger with me. It's written as more of a narrative so you really feel like you're watching Ava Gardner's life on screen in front of you. And what a fascinating life--tumultuous affairs, broken teeth (Howard Hughes's), sex, Sinatra, bull-fighting, Hemingway, and Hollywood, all coated with booze and curse words (the lady had a fouler mouth than me, unbelievably). The research the author...more
I loved reading this book!! I looked forward to it every day.

Born on Christmas Eve, 1922, Ava Gardner was considered an unparalleled beauty and it was that beauty that brought her fame and recognition. She married for love – three times – first Mickey Rooney, then Artie Shaw, and then the love of her life, Frank Sinatra. She starred in movies opposite Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, and Charlton Heston. But she remained shy in front of the camera to the very end. What I liked most about her persona...more
Enjoyable but written in a way that drags things out longer than need be. I think were this book not on such a fascinating subject I would not have been able to finish it.

This is seen amongst fans of Ava Gardner as the definitive biography on her and I suppose there's good reason for it. No one can accuse Lee Server of being sparse with details. I must say though, having read the memoir of the star herself anything else is bound to pale miserably in comparison.
Vanessa Baldwin
I guess I'm giving Ava Gardner 3 stars, not the book. She was a drunk, plain and simple, and it ruined her life. Well, Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and Frank Sinatra helped ruin it too, I suppose. Mickey Rooney cheated on her, Artie Shaw was a condescending sadist bastard, and Frank, well, he was Frank. I would hand this to the typical teenage girl and say, "Look kid. Here's proof that being beautiful won't do squat to insure a beautiful life."
Terrific look at one of Hollywood's larger-than-life personalities all set against the backdrop of the movie industry just after the pictures started talking. It was the era of the huge epics and the even huger egos, all held together by the studio system which essentially made indentured servants out of some of Hollywood's most formidable talent. Enter a simple country girl from North Carolina, who would within a few years of being discovered become one of the most sought-after actresses in the...more
She is amazing. This has helped me rebuild some healthy narcissism post-breakup, and has given me a fresh perspective on life and the search for happiness. For the past year, since finishing the book, I have been watching all of her films in order with my friend Kate, who also loved the book.
I did not know much about Ava Gardner. I have not even seen most of her movies. I picked this book up on a whim at a bookstore after reading the back cover. I enjoyed the book very much and grew to like Ava, at least, the way she is depicted in the book. But like so many other celebrities, she was given so much~beauty, talent, fame, wealth~and did not cherish and protect these 'gifts.' What I liked about Ava and what I think sets her a part from many of her peers, is that she was a down to earth...more
Her life was far more facinating than any movie she ever made. I'm sorry that she was never able to have any children.
Nancy L.
Biography's ok, but what a depressing life. What is it with this beautiful successful women who marry men who hate women?
This book was in some places very emotional to read. She was a glamorous woman indeed. It proves stardom does not bring happiness. Due to her stroke she lost a part of her old-self. She drank a lot and was very down-to-earth. I was reading this book like she was a great friend of mine and you have to keep reminding yourself she is an actress that has died and that your arms cannot comfort her. I would like to know if Frank Sinatra paid her to be quiet. Either way, the book came out. The journali...more
Upon Ava Gardner's death, Artie Shaw (her second husband) was quoted as saying that Ava Gardner's death was her fault "she did it herself with all the drinking, smoking and carrying on". Well first off what an A-HOLE for making that kind of public statement about a woman he was married to, shows his true colors! I'm in the camp that people can't be completely blamed for their addictions. Yes Ava Gardner was an alcoholic who overdid it in the partying department which caused her to age quite quic...more
Ava Gardner was a stunning, sultry sexy (and other S words) star from about 1939 to 1970. The book guides us through her journey, her success, her relationships (with many Hollywood notables such as Mickey Rooney and Frank Sinatra). From start to finish almost every interview or opinion on Ava was one if not all three of these following things:

1. She was beautiful
2. She was lovely, down to earth and kind
3. She was not either of those things when drunk

Unfortunately she was a heavy drinker, which...more
An interesting read. I felt it could have been better, though. The author clearly adored his subject, sometimes too much. I'm not sure if anyone interviewed offered much of an opinion on Ms. Gardner other than she was supremely beautiful, or if those were the only quotes the author chose to include. Every page seemed to quote someone saying how beautiful they thought she was or how good she was in bed. Nothing much on the actual individual, other than temperamental and restless. It would have be...more
Victoria Nicholson
To be honest I got a bit bored with this book.I mostly skimmed it. Ava Gardener looked like a brunette goddess.I appreciated that she sounded like a female James Dean. She cussed, drove fast, and had african-american pals all like James Dean.It got me intrested in her enough that I would
dig watching some of her films but not enough that I wanted to finish the book.My favorite part of
the book was the bit about her attempting to be a picador.That fascinated me a bit.Other than that
the romances wit...more
This was an interesting read. It just goes to show extreme beauty, money, and fame do not always lead to happiness.

In some ways AG was an extremely admirable and courageous woman, but in other ways her behavior was condemnable. This book was a well-written look at a complex and conflicted person.

On the plus side, AG was extremely open minded for her day. She would not tolerate racism in any form. She just didn't think that way. AG told the studio execs to screw off more than once, which takes...more
The thesis of this biography of Ava Gardner is that the brilliance of her was not in her films but rather her personal life. It is a biography focused on her life outside of her work, work not being a major concern and her cinema career being more than a little haphazard despite some very fine performances spanning decades in and outside Hollywood. Fortunately, for Lee Server, who is a very good writer and has a perfect ear for both anecdote and comedy, Gardner lived a very full life, and with s...more
Neal Alexander
Interested me more in Artie Shaws's music than in going back to any of Ava Gardner's films, but worth it for her off-screen story, and tales of the film world. On The Killers: "Siodmak always knew what he wanted and worked very quickly. There was no rehearsal before the actual shooting began. Siodmak's interest was in staging and camera placement. He did not discuss motivation with the actors or give line readings." On The Naked Maja: "Filming was in the Italian style, without direct sound recor...more
Stephen Elliott
Ava Gardner is a Hollywood Icon…this exceptional biography pays tribute to her legacy while painting a very rounded picture of Ava, the actress and the woman. This book is very detailed in chronicling both her rise to fame and her inner struggles: by the time you finish the last page, you feel as though you know Miss Gardner, or wish that you had known her. I have previously read Miss Gardner’s autobiography, and I found that this book to be a great companion. I highly recommend this book to any...more
Jenny Stewart
Mar 29, 2008 Jenny Stewart rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like Frank Sinatra
I didn't know much about Ava Gardner except that I saw the Barefoot Contessa (with Humphrey Bogart) and Mogambo (with Clark Gable) and thought she acted exceptionally well in both movies, so I decided to check out this book. The majority of it is about her sexcapades with tons of dudes, including Fidel Castro, and it was an empowering description of a woman being in charge of her sexuality. But the sexcapades got old after awhile. I wanted to know more about the movies she was in and what filmin...more
If you are a reader who loves the movies of the 50s and 60s, you will probably enjoy this book. Extensively referenced, this 500 pager is the story of Ava Gardner - who started out as just "regular folk" in eastern NC. At a time where potential stars were recruited because of a beautiful face encountered at a lunch counter or elevator, Ava's start came with a photo of her put up in the window as a demo for a NY photographer. My take is that her life, which was a wild one, was shaped more by her...more
Captain Kirks Girl
Lee Server does an excellent job of documenting and capturing the life of Ava Gardner. Well researched and exhaustive. Ava Gardner sadly ended up old and alone like so many of Hollywood's beautiful yet empty vessels. She had beauty, fame and riches and what did she do with her life other then sleep with as many men as she could and drink as much as she could. She could have done many positive things with the gifts she was given in life yet chose the road of excessive drinking and chasing men who...more
I'm not usually one for biographies or Hollywood gossip -current or past- but I picked up this book after reading a glowing review written by an online friend. Wow! Not only was it dishy and engrossing, but this book seemed to be very well-researched. The lady certainly rubbed shoulders with some interesting people! I especially enjoyed the behind-the-scene details given about each movie Ava made during her career, and I'd recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the film-making proces...more
Her beauty was unsurpassed and something everyone commented on - but most interestingly I thought was how free-spirited she was. Anything went as far as she was concerned and she was unabashed in going after what she wanted and lived life unapologetically. She was a fascinating character and seemed unaffected by her beauty until it was threatened in a freak accident. Torrid love affairs with Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra litter her story, but she never found a love she could live w...more
A fascinating biography of the legendary movie star. A subtle portrait of a complex woman and of the Hollywood system. Quite poignant, much more than I expected. Some parts of Gardner's life are tragic and heartbreaking, yet she is such an extraordinary character that one feels for her without pitying her. Strong and vulnerable, deeply romantic yet also quite realistic and even sometimes cynical, she lived quite a life and Server, who seems to have done quite a huge amount of research, is a gift...more
Elise Swenson
An amazing story. Although not as dishy as a Kitty Kelly book, this captured Ava's life. It seemed to be very objective, as evidence by the even-handed, non-judgemental description of her life with Sinatra. She struggled with her profession (never was comfortable as an actress, although she did like the wealth and life-style), she did the best she could. It makes me want to rent her earlier movies, The Barefoot Contessa, Flying Dutchman..., I do have Night of the Iguana and plan to watch that to...more
Robert Markiewicz
I'm not especially a fan of biographies, and certainly not of Hollywood stars, but I was intrigued by this after a NY Times rave. I wasn't disappointed. More, I was totally enthralled not just by the portrait of Gardner, but by all the behind the scenes action of many of the films she worked on, as well as the portrait of Hollywood, her loves and co-stars, and the movie business over several decades.

Truly memorable, and a great beach (or patio!) read.

Ava Gardner was super trampy...that and the drinking is the summary of this 500 page autobiography. Throw in some volatile personalities like Frank Sinatra and you have a recipe for a trashy read. Plus, she was from North Carolina...Smithfield to be exact...grew up on a tobacco farm. The book was interesting but the end of her life becomes a depressing tale of alcoholism and sexually predatory behavior...cut back 100 pages and it would have gotten 4 stars.
Cheryl Grace
Ava Gardner, what a woman. Gorgeous, ballsy, dynamic, and talented. Based on Mr. Server's bio, I would guess Ava was impossible for any man to handle or reign in; she did as she pleased, often to her own detriment. This is a highly researched book, very well written and thought-provoking. Ava was a true original and if you don't believe me, check out this book.
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Lee Server specialises in books on popular culture and literary history.

He is the critically acclaimed author of such as 'Danger Is My Business: The Illustrated History of the Fabulous Pulp Magazines' (1993), 'Over My Dead Body: The Sensational Age of the American Paperback' (1995) and the biography 'Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don't Care' (2001).
More about Lee Server...
Robert Mitchum: "Baby I Don't Care" Over My Dead Body: The Sensational Age of the American Paperback: 1945-1955 Danger Is My Business: An Illustrated History of the Fabulous Pulp Magazines: 1896-1953 Asian Pop Cinema: Bombay to Tokyo Sam Fuller: Film Is A Battleground: A Critical Study, with Interviews, A Filmography, and a Bibliography

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