WCW: Ava Gardner


One of the most beautiful actresses of her time, Ava Gardner made her mark playing femme fatale roles and sophisticated duchesses and baronesses that belied her rural North Carolina upbringing.


Barbara Beaurevel in My Forbidden Past (1951)

Ava Gardner, My Forbidden Past (1951)

Set in late 19th-century New Orleans.


Julie LaVerne in Show Boat (1951)


I don’t care if it’s not historically accurate, I love this crazy dress!

Martha Ronda in Lone Star (1952)

Ava Gardner, Lone Star (1952)


Guinevere in Knights of the Round Table (1953)

Ava Gardner, Knights of the Round Table (1953)

Part of the ’50s film/TV fascination with all things medieval.


Lady Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises (1957)

Ava Gardner, The Sun Also Rises (1957)

Adapted from Hemmingway’s story set in the 1920s.


Maria Cayetana, Duchess of Alba in The Naked Maja (1958)

Ava Gardner, The Naked Maja (1958)

If I can get a copy of this flick again, it’s worth a deep dive because the costumes are … interesting…


Baroness Natalie Ivanoff in 55 Days at Peking (1963)

Ava Gardner, 55 Days at Peking (1963)

About the 1900’s Boxer Rebellion.


Sarah in The Bible: In the Beginning (1966)

Ava Gardner, The Bible In the Beginning (1966)


Empress Elizabeth in Mayerling (1968)

Ava Gardner, Mayerling (1968)



Lily Langtry in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)

Ava Gardner, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)


Mabel Dodge Luhan in Priest of Love (1981)

Ava Gardner, Priest of Love (1981)

About writer D.H. Lawerence in the ’20s.


Agrippina in A.D. (1985)

Ava Gardner, A.D. (1985)

Great hair!


What’s your favorite historical costume role of Ava Gardner’s?


About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

18 Responses

  1. Saraquill

    Dat brooch in the 1972 photograph makes me smile as a jewelry geek. It looks very Edwardian.

    • susan l eiffert

      Funny, I didn’t notice the brooch, but I think it looks much more 40’s, rather than Nouveau. What I did notice was the dreadful mashup of a dress: part crocheted lace summer overdress c.1905, and part winterwalking suit. Terrible.

      • Saraquill

        How so? The bow motif with the lacy interior reads as Edwardian to me. The thinness of the metal is easier accomplished with platinum, popular with Edwardians, than the colored gold used in the Retro jewelry design period. Granted, this is a black and white photo, making it harder to confirm.

  2. Trianon

    I only have seen her in ‚Mayerling‘ and loved her in the role of the Empress. So elegant, beautiful and mysterious. But I have tobsay, she gave me the ‚WOW‘ factor in the pic from ‚my forbidden past‘.
    Seems like I need to watch a film solb

  3. Susan Pola Staples

    I enjoyed her as the Duchess of Alba in Naked Maja and the baroness in 55 Days in Peking. She was also excellent in Showboat.

  4. Lynne Connolly

    Looks like she always did her own eye make up! She was utterly gorgeous, foul-mouthed and adventurous. She claimed that Sinatra was 119lb wet, but 19ib of that was cock.

  5. Hana - Marmota

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in anything. Being a Czech who grew up without TV (those are two unrelated characteristics), I’ve missed out on a lot of classic Hollywood – even though it’s still pretty much impossible to miss out on the names

    Unrelated: I left a bunch of comments on some old posts recommending stuff. To make matters clear, those aren’t in any way requests for you to review that stuff. In truth, I mostly left them there in case other readers come along and find it helpful, with a very mild hope that you might one day get around to it yourselves and actually enjoy it. I’m far from a regular reader, what with being unfamiliar with most of what you review anyway (see above), so that’s about it, really. :-)

    • David Johnson

      Wondered if anyone noticed that. Doesn’t even look like AVA

    • BCR

      There’s a lovely small museum dedicated to Ava Gardner in Smithfield, NC, her home town. Chronicling her life from small-town country girl to screen goddess, it displays a number of her costumes and dresses (showcasing her impossibly small waist). She struggled with the contrast between her screen image and the reality of her earthy, often raunchy personality. It’s a wonderful way to spend a few hours and well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.

  6. M.E. Lawrence

    Ava was the best thing in “Show Boat”; she even gets Kathryn Grayson to relax and enjoy herself a bit. (I, too, love that rather strange tartan-trimmed dress.) She plays her final scenes, when Julie has become an alcoholic fallen woman, in minimal make-up and contrives to look more beautiful than ever.

  7. Josef

    Hey isn’t that Janet Suzman in the Priest of Love picture I believe I would recognize Alexandra anywhere