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Ava Gardner: Love Is Nothing

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  1,512 Ratings  ·  99 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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Sep 08, 2013 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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."
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
Apr 30, 2010 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 22, 2008 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 24, 2016 Ed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was planning to write that "Ava Gardner" by Lee Server was not bad for a Hollywood biography but realized that I had no basis for comparison since the only other movie star biography I have read was "Montgomery Clift: A Biography". That was at least 30 years ago.

It is worthwhile for a 30 page discussion of "The Killers" a classic film noir work, one of the first of the genre and one of the best. It was difficult to get Ernest Hemingway even discuss selling the rights to his short story follow
Kendra Bean
May 30, 2015 Kendra Bean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I'd better clarify: The writing deserves a high rating, but if you're going to read this book, I'd really recommend a physical copy rather than the Kindle version, which is what I opted for.

I'm not familiar with publishers' methods of transferring printed text to digital text but have noticed most kindle books I've read are completely riddled with typos and grammatical errors that aren't always in the printed book versions. What's up with that?
Feb 03, 2009 Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 13, 2009 Biosyd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Her life was far more facinating than any movie she ever made. I'm sorry that she was never able to have any children.
Jan 06, 2017 Tara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Love Ava, but hate this intolerably boring and uneventful biography so deeply that I wanted to hate Ava. It's no fun! Pass it up and just read her quotes or something she had written as like an autobiography. She is super cool but this book is super bad...
Tammy Paine
Nov 26, 2016 Tammy Paine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just love this era. What an amazing life.
Sep 24, 2010 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 15, 2014 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 07, 2014 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: love-it
Ava Gardner was the stunning, sultry sexy (and other S words) star from about 1939 to 1970. The book elaborates on 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 of three 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 many believe was the
Jun 25, 2013 Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 11, 2014 Randee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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
Aug 03, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
DNF. Well written, but after 250 pages of her exploits I got disgusted and gave up. "Sweet County Girl turns Boozy, Foul-mouthed Slut" would have been a more appropriate title. I could work up no sympathy for this woman, or even regard. The author, clearly biased, went on and on about how " wonderful" she was and how "everyone loved her". How or why this could have been true, I have no idea. She was a spoiled, self centered narcissist who seemed incapable of staying out of bed with someone, ANYO ...more
Stephen Elliott
Aug 09, 2012 Stephen Elliott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 04, 2013 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jenny Stewart
Mar 29, 2008 Jenny Stewart rated it liked it  ·  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
Elise Swenson
Jun 24, 2011 Elise Swenson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 15, 2014 Leah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 07, 2009 Carole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 11, 2011 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 01, 2008 Denis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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).
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“The love she had felt for him in the past was still there within her, covered over now like a bandaged wound, not yet healed underneath and perhaps still easily reopened.” 1 likes
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