not in our stars, but in ourselves
It’s another tragedy, kids. Funny how most of the real-life Hollywood love stories end that way; best not to read too much into it. Anyway, today’s beautiful doomed couple is Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner: one of the best voices and one of the most gorgeous faces ever recorded. Rather than blather on about them myself, I’ll let you decide how utterly tragic they are based on what other people have had to say about them – and what Ava herself had to say.
“He was absolutely obsessed with Ava. Absolutely crazy in love. It is a kind of legendary romance now, but I have to say the reality was even stronger…He was ready to do anything for Ava. She was like a Svengali to him. She was an enigma. A mysterious presence.”
– Skitch Henderson, Sinatra’s collaborator
“They stayed very, very close. Every time I’d be with her, he would call at least once. And she would go up into her bedroom, close the door, and talk for half an hour. The only time I saw them together, she was staying at his suite at the Waldorf Towers. He was looking up an address in the phone book and he couldn’t read it without his glasses, which he didn’t have. And Ava, who had these funny little Ben Franklin-type half-glasses, said, ‘Here, try mine.’ And he put them on and he said, ‘Hey, they work for me! That’s another reason why you and I should get back together.’ Which I thought was kind of cute.”
– Stephen Birmingham
“We gave a party for the cast when it [the premier for From Here to Eternity] was over, and I still remember Frank sitting there telling everyone that in sixteen more hours he would be with Ava. ‘She’s the most beautiful woman in the world. You know that, don’t you?’ he’d say. ‘Yes, Frank, we all know how beautiful Ava is,’ I’d say. ‘She’s not just one of the most beautiful women in the world; she’s the most beautiful,’ he’d insist. He thought that he was married to the most exquisite creature on the face of the earth and he was desperately in love with her. It was kind of sad because all the rest of us knew that the marriage was held together by mere threads at that point.”
– Joan Cohn Harvey
And from Ava herself…
“We became lovers forever, eternally. Big words, I know, but I truly felt that no matter what happened we would always be in love.”
“He was so wild, so full of love and energy that he was like three men rolled into one. But behind the front of a big drinker and party-giver, he is highly sensitive and intelligent — and he has a heart of gold.”
“Our love was deep and true, even though the fact that we couldn’t live with each other any more than we couldn’t live without each other sometimes made it hard for outsiders to understand. All I know is that if Frank had lost me or I’d lost him during those months, our worlds would have been shattered.”
“Every single day during our relationship, no matter where in the world I was, I’d get a telegram from Frank saying he loved me and missed me. He was a man who was desperate for companionship and love. Can you imagine he always had mine!”
“I slept in Frank’s pajamas, at least the top half of them, and the next day we walked along the empty beach, me in the bottom half of my travel suit and Frank’s jacket. Naturally a photographer was lying in wait and snapped a shot of us, barefoot, holding hands. I’ve always thought it was a sad little photograph, a sad little commentary on our lives then. We were simply two young people so much in love, and the world wouldn’t leave us alone for a second.”
If you’re not crying yet, I just don’t know what to say to you. Here, go watch Ava singing in Show Boat. Will that do the trick? It had better.
He remarried; she never did. In her declining years, she was very sick and not very well off. He insisted that she let him pay to fly her to proper medical care – which he also covered. They loved each other horribly much, and they were horrible to each other sometimes, but there was never any doubt about how deeply they cared for each other all their lives. BRB, crying forever.