AVA GARDNER IN MADRID
It is hard not to fall in love with Madrid, and the story of the famous actress Ava Gardner proves it. She lived here for thirteen years, having exchanged luxurious Hollywood parties for a much more relaxed rhythm of Madrid life. Her move to the city though overthrew the normal being of the city.
Ava Gardner arrived in the airport Barajas in 1953. This was her second visit to Madrid, and now she had come to stay. Rumour has it that Frank Sinatra, her husband, played a considerable role in her moving. However, there were other important reasons. For instance, in Spain, she didn’t have to pay taxes from her generous income. Here she could enjoy freedom from paparazzi and the constant attention of her fans. One more reason was the Spanish toreador Luis Miguel Dominguín, with whom Gardner had an affair at the time.
Having arrived in Madrid, Gardner found much more than she expected. Despite that the entertainment here was different from American one, the actress took great joy in spending time with toreadors and flamenco dancers, tasting Spanish wine, and having fun with Madrid elite.
There are so many legends about Gardner in Madrid that it is difficult to tell them from the truth. As Franco and the ruling party did not approve of the scandals provoked by the bright and emotional actress, there is very little evidence of her stay in Madrid in the press.
It is known though she was repeatedly thrown out of luxurious hotels and restaurants, she had to move various times. The hotel Ritz, having got rid of the scandalous client, banned the entrance to all actors for years afterwards.
Her favourite bar in the city was Museo Chicote. This bar was also the favourite of Hemingway. Together they savoured famous Chicote cocktails. Besides, this bar had a secret door that one could use so as to avoid paparazzi. This door led right to the street, and you could easily escape the cameras. This passage still exists and sometimes turns out to be useful for the stars visiting Madrid nowadays.
Hemingway also introduced Gardner to the Spanish clothes brand Loewe. Their flagman shop remains located down Gran Via street, which is only a few minutes away from Chicote.
On Saint Anna Square, there is one of the best-known flamenco stages, Villa Rosa. Gardner was a frequenter here. Some say that she even used to go on stage and dance to flamenco music.
Despite her passion for Madrid, the actress abandoned Madrid. The reason behind her decision is still unclear. The most popular version tells us about the growing rage of Franco and those close to him caused by the actress enjoying a too independent and free lifestyle. The excuse for her leaving for one-million-dollar fine. It was given to the actress for having insulted a respected priest. Gardner insisted that he had come to her flat and started insulting her first. Whatever the case may be, the fine was demanded, and the actress decided that she was not welcome in Madrid anymore.
Having moved to London, she became a totally different person. Gardner, who used to light up the whole Spanish capital with her energy, led a particularly quiet life in the UK. So those thirteen years that the actress spent in Madrid can be considered her golden age. And Madrid still remembers the unique temper and endless energy of Ava Gardner.