Sculpture Saturday: Ava and Frank on the Costa Brava

Ava Gardner: Statue in Lloret de Mar

It was in the small Spanish fishing villages of Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar that the torrid romance of Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra played out in the 1950s.  More than a romance between singer and actress, this was a passion of operatic proportions played out between the singer, the actress and the matador, because Ava was also having an affair with Catalan matador, Mario Cabré. 

In 1950 Sinatra came to Spain to be with Ava who was living in Tossa de Mar while shooting Pandora and the Flying Dutchman. They tried to be discreet about their affair but as the Matador publicly dedicated every bull he killed to Ava, this proved impossible.  Sinatra divorced his wife in 1951 and married Ava the same year.

Ava & Sinatra in Lloret or maybe Tossa de Mar (Wikicomms).

In 1953, the pair split up, but Sinatra came back looking for her in Christmas of that year. But by this time, Gardner was having an affair with another bullfighter, the famous Luis Miguel Dominguín.  Sinatra and Ava moved to Madrid where their life was lived out in public in night-clubs and restaurants, their frequent booze fuelled fights ensuring the affair remained front-page news.  They divorced in 1957.

Gardner became an alcoholic.  She had a stroke which left her unable to speak properly and the only person she would speak to in her last years was Frank Sinatra who telephoned her regularly. She said he had always been the love of her life. 

Ava’s charm and friendliness won over the people of the two villages and both towns erected a statue to her.  The one below is in Tossa de Mar, the one above from Lloret de Mar taken on a visit I made in the early days of this century. I think the Tossa one is more beautiful but the Lloret one was meant to symbolise her role in The Barefoot Contessa.

Ava Gardner- image from Wikicomms.

11 thoughts on “Sculpture Saturday: Ava and Frank on the Costa Brava

    1. Even I didn’t recognise it when I went back. I found Tossa to still be a charming place but Lloret was not a place I’d want to return to in a hurry.

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    1. I remember the scandal because my mother thought Ava was the bee’s knees and I was just getting into Sinatra. It really rocked the world – especially Catholic Spain and Ireland. “What larks, Jo, what larks”! There, I’ve always wanted to use that phrase and now I’ve found a reason to use it!

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    1. Torred is the word, and played out in the full light of publicity, albeit limited to newspapers and magazines in those days. It was also exotic, having a beautiful woman AND a bull-fighter.

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  1. Yes, very much so. And with Sinatra’s Italian Catholic background and the matador being Spanish Catholic, that made it even worse.

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