John Denver may’ve crooned ‘A Country Girl in Paris’ in 1988, but if the song resonates with anyone, it has to be Ava Gardner – the country girl from Grabtown, North Carolina who went on to become a diva. Only, she didn’t find herself in Paris. She ended up in Hollywood.
Ava’s life was no less than a story straight out of a Hollywood musical. From riches, to rags to riches again, her life was a roller-coaster of the good, the bad, and at times, the ugly. Born into an affluent farming family that later lost their property, Ava’s family moved into the big city of Virginia, in search of better opportunities, and a better life. It was years later in 1941 when Larry Tarr put up one of his portraits of Ava at a shop window that MGM took notice, and cast her in a series of blink, and you miss roles. The Killer, released in 1946, changed it all, and Ava Gardner, the drop dead gorgeous diva of the silver screen, was born.
She may have come a long way from her days as a simple girl from a Baptist family, but her roots as a girl born on the farm was mirrored in her love for cigarettes, for her father owned a tobacco plantation. Later, whisky would become her poison of choice. She loved her whisky neat, and is said to have downed several pegs at a go. So much did she love her whisky that on the sets of Night of the Iguana, she is rumoured to have refused to film her scene because she felt like drinking instead. Thanks to her charm, she got away with it. She’s right at the top with the likes of Humphrey Bogart, and Raymond Chandler when it comes to celebrity drinkers famous for their love of whisky.