Ava Gardner (1922-90) began her career first as a model, then as a contract player at MGM. She toiled in tiny bit roles, finally getting a worthwhile one on loan-out to Universal in noir classic THE KILLERS (1946). MGM was never comfortable with the bad-girl persona she displayed so well in this film, so most of her starring roles at her home studio were relatively sympathetic ones in THE HUCKSTERS (1947) and SHOW BOAT (1951). MGM eventually came to terms with the elements that made Gardner popular with the public, notably in the gutsy MOGAMBO (1953), in which she partnered with the equally earthy Clark Gable. Director George Cukor was much taken by Gardner and cast the actress in her best and most complex MGM role in BHOWANI JUNCTION (1956). Gardner was equally well served in THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA (1954), which, in many ways, was a replay of her own rags-to-riches personal story. The actress was cast in some of her best parts during the '60s, such as SEVEN DAYS IN MAY and NIGHT OF THE IGUANA (both 1964). She was married and divorced three times – to actor Mickey Rooney, bandleader Artie Shaw and singer Frank Sinatra.