Ava Gardner’s think on her hometown, childhood birthdays, sharing a birthday through Howard Hughes and also being born a night owl. Quotes from Ava’s autobiography, Ava: my Story, with historic context detailed by Ava Gardner Museum’s arsenal manager, Beth Nevarez.

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Baby Ava, circa 1923.

December 24, 1922 – Ava Gardner is born.

“I was born Ava Lavinia Gardner on Christmas night 1922 in Grabtown, north Carolina. Not Brogden, not Smithfield, favor so plenty of of the publications say, but negative old Grabtown. God to know why it obtained that name: there to be no place to grab, and hardly any town at all.”

Grabtown is an unincorporated neighborhood in Johnston County, north Carolina around 9 mile southeast native the city of Smithfield. Ava Gardner was born ~ above a farm in this community to Jonas and Mary “Mollie” Gardner. Ava’s father to be a sharecropper, that farmed land own by who else. The landlord noted the seed and the fertilizer while Jonas worked the land, and also they separation the earnings if there to be any. The family moved to Brogden, NC as soon as Ava was 2 years old so that her mother can take a task cooking and also cleaning for the teachers that lived at the regional teacherage.


Ava ~ above the porch of the house she was born in throughout a visit house to phibìc Carolina in 1949.

Christmastime Birthday

“As a child, what i loved around my birthday was the Christmas tree with lighted candles on it and the truth that all the relatives pertained to my party…And also when us were too poor to have actually two presents, Mama always made certain to bake 2 special cakes just for me. One to be chocolate, the various other white coconut. Mama understood how lonely simply one current for Christmas and your birthday might be.”

Christmas trees v lighted candles were popular in the United claims from the mid-1800s v the early on 1900s. Since they to be a fire hazard, many people only lit castle for quick periods of time (maybe 30 minutes), watched lock closely, and also had water or sand top top standby just in case. Electric lights because that trees were an initial used in 1882, however they had to be hand-wired and powered by electricity, i beg your pardon was not yet easily accessible in many places. In 1903, pre-wired strings started to be marketed by GE, however they to be still fairly expensive. As much more companies started to develop string lights, they ended up being cheaper. Electricity took much longer to reach rural locations though and also even when it did, Ava’s household likely used lighted candles to conserve money.


Ava and her mommy Mollie.

Sharing a Birthday v Howard Hughes

“What have the right to I say around Howard Hughes? A world-famous aviator, a multi-multi-millionaire, a very complex man, courageous, bold, and also inventive? you bet. But likewise painfully shy, totally enigmatic and more eccentric, honey, than anyone I ever met. Because that God’s sake, he and also I to be born top top the same day, and also if you think that Capricorns fall into the same category, you recognize what the means. I was never in love through him, however he was in and out of my life because that something choose twenty really remarkable years.”

Howard Hughes to be born top top Christmas night in 1905, making the 17 years to the day older than Ava. Howard sought Ava for years, on and off, and her friendship with Howard to be a source of contention between her and also husband open minded Sinatra. Ava is illustrated by Kate Beckinsale in the biopic movie The Aviator, certification Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes.


One of the only photos the Ava and also Howard Hughes together he hated publicity and also avoided photographs.

Born a Night Owl

“I came into this civilization at ten o’clock in ~ night, and also I’ve often thought that was the factor I turned right into such a nocturnal creature. As soon as the sun sets, honey, ns feel more, oh, alert. An ext alive. Through midnight, ns feel fantastic. Also when i was a little girl, mine father would certainly shake his head and say, ‘Let’s simply hope you gain a task where you work nights.’ small did he understand what was in store for me. The takes talent come live at night, and also that to be the one capacity I never ever doubted ns had.”

Ava was renowned in her time for enjoying nightlife. She routinely attended parties, concerts, events, and nightclubs, some of it supposed for her Hollywood roles, but much for her personal enjoyment. She to be a continuous at the legend Hollywood nightclub, Mocambo. Many of the most exciting adventures and stories she described in Ava: my Story took location in the beforehand hours the the morning. Ava well balanced her love that the night with early call times though, going to bed beforehand when necessary.

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Ava enjoying a night out with Frank Sinatra.

On she Life & Legacy

“And, you know, if I had my life to live over again, I’d live it precisely the very same way. Maybe a couple of changes here and there, however nothing special. Since the fact is, honey, I’ve appreciated my life. I’ve had a hell of a an excellent time.”

Today we celebrate this cost-free spirit, a tobacco farmer’s daughter-turned Hollywood legend, and also we proud share she life and legacy in ~ the Ava Gardner Museum. Happy Birthday, Ava!