To this day she still loves him and adores him.“I asked him once, if he had it to do all over again, would he leave mum for Ava?
And he said no.“I think he hit rock bottom pretty much at that period (the divorce), in terms of work and emotion, and it was tough.“I never knew anyone, and I still don’t know anyone else, who felt things as deeply and took things to heart the way he did.”Even after the divorce Nancy claimed that Gardner was a “huge help” to her father.
Ava Gardner was born in a small North Carolina farming community in Johnston County named Brogden, also known by the nickname “Grabtown.” Her father, Jonas Bailey Gardner, was of mixed descent — Irish Catholic and Tuscarora American Indian.
At the time of Ava’s birth in 1922, he owned a cotton and tobacco farm, which he worked with his wife and Ava’s mother, Molly, a Baptist of Scots-Irish and English origin. Hard times came with the Great Depression, causing the family to lose their farm.
He tried the same on Gardner, but all she and her family heard was “she should call MGM.” The tool didn’t get Gardner’s number, but her photo, now in the hands of the New York MGM office, was raising eyebrows.He promptly sent a big package of Ava’s photos over to MGM.In New York, she did a screen test which showed her as awkward and unpolished.Sinatra married Nancy Barbato - who is still alive and aged 97 - in 1939 and they had three children before divorcing in 1951.He married screen siren Gardner that year but their union only lasted two years, leaving him devastated.