Ava Gardner Museum

Dear readers,

If reincarnation is real, I think I was a 1940s starlet and somehow died before really getting my start. For much of my life, I have been fascinated with the idea of being in the film industry in its golden age (not this age, this age is simply not classy. Not that I’d pass up a fun opportunity, but it’s not worth putting a lot of effort forward anymore…).

Oh good lord, I just thought of something: was I The Black Dahlia?!?

… moving on.

For those like me with a love for classic Hollywood films and stars, if you find yourself in North Carolina, you simply must check out the AVA GARDNER MUSEUM- 325 E. Market St., Smithfield, NC.


Ava Gardner, Hollywood film star of the 40s and on through the next few decades, wife of Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and Frank Sinatra, was born in Smithfield when it was little more than farmhouses and the town shows its pride in her with the museum.

Below is the only picture I got inside the museum because, it turns out, photography is not allowed in the museum (I snapped this before I was told). Suffice to say it is small enough to tour in an hour (including an 18 minute film of an overview of her life). The museum includes childhood memorabilia, film costumes, personal effects, and details of her life. There is also a small gift shop, as you can see a little bit of over on the side of the picture.


Sarah, the on duty docent (a term I had actually never heard before until I was there!), was extremely sweet (something I miss about living in the south: most people are so nice!) and chatted with me for a while as I was cashing out with my two commemorative postcards. She gave me directions to Ava’s gravesite, then told me I was a delight to have at the museum that day before I left.

… a statement which I am committing to the annals of this blog because nobody else calls me that!

Yes, Ava was a homegirl overall, so she is buried in Smithfield with her family. The cemetery is about a mile down the road from the museum at the intersection of Business 70 and 210.


Once inside, her grave should be easy to find because there are signs pointing the way (I think she is the only celebrity they have in there).



I say SHOULD be easy. I am going to give you a tip so that you don’t waste several minutes looking in the wrong spot, like I did. When you go down the path with the plaque in the picture above, and you see this below-pictured stone off to your right…..


… keep going, this is NOT it. I don’t know if this is a relative or a decoy sent by some evil deity, but I wandered around this thing, feeling like an idiot until the thought occurred to me to widen my search. Right after you see this stone, the path makes a 90 degree left turn If you turn the corner and take a couple steps, then look to your right, you should find the right one.


I left the three pennies on her marker, one for each husband. I don’t know why I felt compelled to do that, but there it is.

Until next time, dahlings…

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