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10 Rare Photos of a Young Ava Gardner That Are Sure to Stun

The sparkling starlet was a scene stealer!

Ava Gardner embodied Hollywood glamour like no other — her beauty, talent, charm and charisma made her one of the biggest stars of The Golden Age of Hollywood. However, the daughter of a poor tobacco farmer, a life on the screen wasn’t exactly something she had set her sights on as a young girl born in North Carolina.

Signed at 18 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, she had countless small parts at the start of her career in films like Ghosts on the Loose (1943), 3 Men in White (1944), Maisie Goes to Reno (1944), She Went to the Races (1945) and Whistle Stop (1946) before her 1946 breakout role in The Killers put her on the map.

Ava Gardner
Ava Gardner poses in a shiny gown Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

From there, her resume continued to grow and her fame only increased. Some of the most notable works of her career include Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951), Mogambo (1953), Bhowani Junction (1956), On the Beach (1959) and plenty of others.

Here, take a look at Ava Gardner as a young actress during the height of her career.

1934: The young actress before life on the big screen

The actress at 12 years old in 1934
Ava Gardner, 1934John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Ava Gardner flashes a smile in this photo of her as a young girl at just 12 years old.

1940: The actress makes a splash

The actress pictured in 1940
The actress pictured in 1940Bettmann/Getty Images

Ava Gardner is pictured in this 1940 snapshot enjoying the water in a retro swimsuit.

1941: A Hollywood love story

The actress with Mickey Rooney in 1941
Mickey Rooney and Ava Gardner, 1941Hulton Archive/Getty Images

At a mere 19 years old, Gardner married actor Mickey Rooney. In only 9 months, the couple separated, and the actress would go on to marry her second husband, Artie Shaw, in 1945.

1946: A breakout role

Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster, The Killers, 1946
Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster, The Killers, 1946Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

In a pivotal role in her career, Gardner starred opposite Burt Lancaster in this famed film noir.

1948: Ava Gardner gets bubbly

Ava Gardner, 1948
The actress pictured in 1948Bettmann/Getty Images

In a scene from the 1948 film, One Touch of Venus, Gardner enjoys a bubble bath.

1951: Pandora and the Flying Dutchman

Ava Gardner and James Mason, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, 1951
The actress and James Mason, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, 1951Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Gardner looks like a certified star in this photo from the set of her 1951 film alongside James Mason.

1951: Gardner and Frank Sinatra side by side

Singer Frank Sinatra and actress Ava Gardner, 1951
Singer Frank Sinatra and actress Ava Gardner, 1951AFP/AFP via Getty Images

The love story of Gardner and Frank Sinatra is a famous one. The couple were marred in 1951 and their divorce was finalized in 1957.

1953: Mogambo stars Ava Gardner and Clark Gable

Ava Gardner, Clark Gable, Mogambo, 1953
The stars of Mogambo, 1953FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

Ava Gardner joined a star-studded cast in Mogambo. Acting alongside Clark Gable and Grace Kelly, Gardner played the part of Eloise Kelly, who falls for Victor Marswell (Gable), a game hunter. Meanwhile, when Grace Kelly’s character of Linda Nordley arrives on the scene, she finds herself falling for him as well.

1956: A famous film featuring Ava Gardner

Ava Gardner, Bill Travers, Bhowani Junction, 1956
The actress with Bill Travers, Bhowani Junction, 1956FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

In this 1956 film, Gardner plays a half Indian, half British woman who finds herself torn not only between her two heritages, but also torn between two male suitors.

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