ISSUE DATE: Sept. 3, 1951
Ava’s open affair with a married man—following Ingrid Bergman’s escapade with Roberto Rossellini and Rita Hayworth’s fling with Aly Khan—has inevitably reawakened in some quarters the ancient question about Hollywood morals. It has brought her some censure (one letter writer habitually addresses her as “Bitch-Jezebel-Gardner”). Yet it actually seems to be helping, rather than hurting, her earning power. Reports Columnist Sidney Skolsky solemnly: “Ava worried. She lost weight. But now she has found that scandal can’t hurt her.” Her current picture, Show Boat, is breaking box-office records across the country. In Lone Star, Metro cast her opposite Clark Gable, still one of the greatest favors in its power to bestow, and it has two more important pictures lined up for her. Other studios are clamoring to borrow her services.
The swirling eddy of interest around Ava Gardner is no fluke. Though Hollywood’s rulers, whose egos are as tender as a redhead’s complexion, are understandably reluctant to admit it, the movies have had to take up arms against a sea of troubles. Recovered from the first shock but still haunted by the specter of TV, beset by mounting production costs, harried by a falling box office, Hollywood is also facing an unexpected shortage in its most vital commodity of all—the mysterious attraction that everybody recognizes but no one has ever been able to label more accurately than glamor, or oomph, or It.
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