01/10/10 — Anniversary of Ava Gardner's death observed

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Anniversary of Ava Gardner's death observed

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on January 10, 2010 1:50 AM

SMITHFIELD -- Actress Ava Lavinia Gardner died at age 67 in London, England on Jan. 25, 1990.

Ms. Gardner, one of Hollywood's greatest stars and native of Smithfield, spent the last 35 years of her life abroad, moving to London in 1968.

During all her years abroad, Ava, who is still considered one of the most beautiful women ever to grace the silver screen, continued her film career, making twenty-one motion pictures, two made for television movies ("A.D." and "The Long Hot Summer"), and multiple appearances in "Knots Landing," a CBS prime-time drama.

She retained her American citizenship and visited her family in North Carolina as often as possible, until suffering from a stroke in 1987.

She died in her sleep from bronchial pneumonia, an illness she had been battling for several years. Her last words to her housekeeper, Carmen Vargas, were "I'm tired."

A graveside service was held on Monday, Jan. 29, 1990 at Sunset Memorial Park in Smithfield, and was attended by more than 300 mourners.

At her request, she was buried with a simple footstone and was laid to rest alongside her parents and all but one sibling.

Those visiting the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield on Monday, Jan. 25 will receive a reproduction of the program given to mourners at Ava's graveside service.

The Ava Gardner Museum is located in downtown Smithfield, at 325 E. Market Street. More information may be found on the museum Web site, www.avagardner.org, or by calling 919-934-5830.

The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., with admission of $6 foradults, $5 for seniors and groups and $4 children.