Ava Gardner started life as a sharecropper's daughter and rose to fame as a sloe-eyed sensuous beauty whose husbands ranged from Mickey Rooney to Frank Sinatra.
Famed for her natural beauty and understated acting style, she became equally known for the men she attracted. They ranged from orchestra leader Artie Shaw, whom she also married, to Spanish matadors whom she did not.
Never considered a great actress in the classic sense of that word, she brought to her more than 60 pictures a magnetic quality that proved box-office prosperity and earned an Academy Award nomination for her role in 1953's "Mogambo."
Gardner spanned a generation of sex kittens and love goddesses between Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe before settling in Europe in the 1960s.
In an interview in 1982, Gardner said she would happily have traded her career for one happy, long-lasting marriage: "One good man I could love and marry and cook for and make a home for, who would stick around for the rest of my life.
"The trouble was that I was a victim of image," she said. "Because I was promoted as a sort of siren and played all those sexy broads, people made the mistake of thinking I was like that off the screen. They couldn't have been more wrong. . . . I was a country girl and I still have a country girl's rather simple, ordinary values."