It's not like I ever found her all that compelling as an actress or even what you might call just a beautiful "screen presence", but looking at Ava Gardner - at any age - always makes me feel rather shockingly heterosexual, if you catch my meaning. There was something more to her allure, though, than just an exquisite, sensual face and form. There was that thing about her that some woman have: she seemed both tough - emotionally and physically strong, resilient - and yet, when it suited her, vulnerable, yielding. But always on her terms. Earth mother, lazy witch; she seemed to know something that others don't. I also think she'd have been a great dame to sit with and talk to, world-weary and comfortable. Someone to tell you wry stories. To share a cocktail or three, a cigarette and laughter.
After a previous post about Ava Gardner, celebrating her beauty in her later years, a kind blog visitor left this lovely, touching memory of her encounter with Miss Gardner:
"I was living in London during the mid '80s , studying at the Royal School of Needle Work on Hyde park, often having my lunch sitting on a bench there. One day a small dog decided I was its long lost best friend and started jumping all over me. The apologetic owner sat with me, asked if I minded if she lit up a cigarette and we laughed about the dog, Londoners, the weather, the latest politicians scandal etc. I felt sure we had met before and it was a good ten minutes before I realized it was Ava Gardner I was sitting with. She was perfectly lovely, aged and a little fragile but just as riveting as in her Hollywood heyday and so natural and down to earth. Sadly I never did see her in the park again, I learned sometime later that she had had several strokes around that time, perhaps that day was one of the last time she ever took her little dog for a walk in the park."