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August 6, 2020

Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner: A Look Back at the Fiery Couple

One of the most infamous couples of Hollywood – the love story of Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner was something filled with passion and sorrow. They first met in 1940, but only began to spend their time together in 1948 after a number of personal affairs and at the time, Gardner had already divorced twice whereas Sinatra had had a family with three children.

A fiery couple who also shared many of the same things, from their love for jazz and alcohol to even their insecurities, they gained a reputation of having numerous heat arguments over even minor things. As time went by, they cared less and less about the necessary discreetness for their public images and careers. Their ultimate exposé came in 1950, which dealt a huge blow to Sinatra’s career.

They got married in 1951 after Sinatra was granted a divorce from his then-wife Nancy Barbato, but the blissful honeymoon failed to help Sinatra’s publicity now turned negative, as he received no more film or recording contract. Over the course of their marriage, the couple had more fiery fights, and Sinatra attempted suicide twice while Gardner had two abortions behind his back. Gardner officially filed for divorce in 1957.

Despite their marriage being over, their affections for each other remained the same. It was said that every year after the divorce, Sinatra would send Gardner a floral bouquet, while she always kept a photo from the early days of their love on her bedside table.

Take a look back at the couple when they were together in the 1950s:

Ava Gardner lighting a pipe for Frank Sinatra, 1951. (Walter Bellamy)

Posing with a sign that reads, 'Sinatra Swooners Bat Girl,' 1949. (Gene Lester)

At Riverside Hotel Casino Restaurant, 1951. (NY Daily News)

At Riverside Hotel Casino Restaurant, 1951. (NY Daily News)

Arriving from Philadelphia, 1951. (Bettmann)
Frank Sinatra assisting Ava Gardner with a balky cigarette lighter, New York, 1951. (Bettmann)

Posing behind a wedding cake on their wedding day, 1951. (Hulton Archive)

Gazing at each other while displaying their wedding bands following their wedding, 1951. (Bettmann)

Strolling along a beach in Miami, two days after tying the knot, 1951. (Bettmann)

Greeting at the airport, 1950s. (Evening Standard)

Sipping drinks, 1951. (Hulton Archive)

Arriving at LaGuardia Airport, New York, 1951. (CBS)

Talking with Orson Welles at a charity function at the Empress Club, London, 1951. (Bert Hardy)

Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh attend a dinner at the Empress Club, London, 1951. (PA)

Attending the premiere of 'Pandora and the Flying Dutchman,' 1952. (Earl Leaf)

Arriving at Rivoli for the premier of 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro,' 1952. (Bettmann)

Attending a black-tie event, 1953. (Frank Worth)

Surrounded by journalists and onlookers, Milan, 1953. (Mondadori)

Choosing a new dress at a Roman fashion salon, 1953. (Bettmann)

Posing during a visit to Hawaii, 1950s. (Pictorial Parade)


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