Ava Gardner was at her most seductive opposite Clark Gable in the African adventure Mogambo. Their steamy love scenes helped to secure her a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Behind the sexy image, however, was a shy insecure woman that lacked confidence and whose mind was filled with uncertainty.
Gardner’s volatile marriage to singer Frank Sinatra was one of the most publicized Hollywood unions of all time. Opportunistic producers exploited her fame in a variety of gaudy costume dramas that were more notable for their puns than their prestige.
Throughout this unhappy time in Gardner’s life, she endured the constant ribbing of tabloids. But Hollywood producers kept calling her. In 1962, Gardner was offered the leading role in the film version of Tennessee Williams’ play Sweet Bird of Youth. Unwisely, she turned it down.
Determined not to make the same error twice, Gardner was in a more receptive mood when John Huston suggested she costar as Maxine Faulk in The Night of the Iguana. It was her last chance at grabbing the brass ring, which she desperately needed to prevent her stardom from slipping away.
Ava Gardner in Mogambo
The Barefoot Contessa