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Ava Gardner's idyll with Spain: from the Yes of the bullfighter to the No of the tricorn

In 1950 a landing at the Barcelona airport transformed the Spanish nightlife. Ava Gardner arrived.

Actress Ava Gardner arrived on the Costa Brava, saw, acted and won © Getty Images

His destiny was Tossa de Marwhere would it be filmed Pandora and the wandering Dutchman, of Albert lewin. The movie is a Hollywood rave which combines, in its first scenes, conversations in Catalan of local fishermen and a flamenco tablao in which a group of rich expatriates exhibits lavish costumes of Beatrice Dawson.

Ava, the "secret goddess" in the words of James Mason, is a femme fatale who contemplates without blinking how an admired alcoholic fan for her charms commits suicide or makes a member of her entourage your competition vehicle in the waters of the Costa Brava.

Scene from 'Pandora and the Flying Dutchman' © Alamy

His career, in full takeoff, would be consolidated during the time with films such as The snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) or Mogambo (1953).

The year 1950 marked the beginning of his Stormy adventure with Frank Sinatra, with whom he would marry a year later. The difficulties of a relationship that caused more than one shot consolidated its affair with Spain An isolated country, impoverished by the postwar period and suffocated by the political repression of the regime, but no competition in the offer of anonymous nights and bullfighters, his great weakness. While rolling Pandora, among Sinatra's visits he had time for his first trophy: Mario Cabré.

Ava Gardner in the bulls of Valencia © Getty Images

A few years later, in The Barefoot Countess of Mankiewicz, Ava represented Maria Vargas, a dancer from the slums of Madrid who is discovered by the star system. Maria sails with indifference in the coffee society and take any opportunity to escape to a gypsy village, take off your shoes and dance.

The actress made the reverse trip. In 1954, the year the film was released, Ava acquired his first residence in Madrid: The witch, in La Moraleja. It is said that he came from Hemingway and with his eyes on Luis Miguel Dominguín, but beyond his erotic drives, it is likely that Ava wanted to take off her shoes, to be another.

It is still paradoxical that Franco's Madrid offered him the freedom he was looking for. Away from the spotlights, Ava created a universe that would be inspired by the Carmen from Bizet. Like Carmen, like Pandora, took and discarded lovers in endless nights. The only memory of the international public eye, of the airy and bubbling world of the Barefoot Countess, was the paparazzi, which he avoided at all costs.

His Madrid of tablaos, of the barrier of Las Ventas, of Riscal and of Chicote, has been reflected by Marcos Ordóñez in his book Drink life and in the documentary The night that doesn't end of Isaki Lacuesta. But there is an episode that has gone unnoticed: Your visits to Mallorca.

Albert Lewin and Ava Gardner © Getty Images

Betty Sicre, a common friend, recommended the actress spend a season on the island with the Graves. In his opinion, the rural atmosphere would give him a well-deserved rest, he could improve his Spanish and train in English poetry with Robert. Considering his lines in Spanish in The Barefoot Countess, the second point shows some sense, although the actress's inclination for poetry has never come to light.

Ava listened to her friend and traveled to Deià in 1955, one year after establishing his residence in Madrid. The people of the Sierra de la Tramuntana must then be a hidden place. As the story reflects A toast by Ava Gardner, published in the New yorker, his visit produced a great expectation in the writer and mythographer Robert Graves The story tells how the arrival of the actress on the island reestablishes, in itself, a dispute between the partners of a furniture factory. There is something providential in his advent, as if it were a divine epiphany.

But the goddess, despite establishing a close friendship with the Graves, especially with Robert, he preferred the night of Palma to the bucolic tranquility of Deià, and seemed to show more interest in local wines than in English poetry.

After your visit to wineries José Luis Ferrer, in Binissalem, The actress was in such a state of drunkenness that the winemaker invited her to dinner to avoid an impending collapse. Niní Ferrer, his daughter, who came to meet them in The backyard, a trendy restaurant of the time, states that the wine did not affect its beauty at all; what his presence, as Graves appreciated, remained divine.

Scene from 'Pandora and the Flying Dutchman' © D.R.

Ava continued to visit Mallorca regularly. He went to Deià in December 1961 to celebrate his birthday. His weakness for uniforms seemed to persist, because he showed up at the barracks to invite one of the civil guards to the party. The young man did not have civilian clothes, so presented with tricorn and white gloves. Ava, fascinated, told her she was wearing a beautiful uniform, offered him a glass of wine and invited him to his yacht, which he had anchored in Sa Foradada. He refused, claiming he was on duty. The actress replied that she was not intimidated by beauty and walked away.

That would never have happened to Pandora, but life is determined to avoid the demands of the script. The affair Ava Gardner with Spain went out as its Cañí refuge dissolved in a decade marked by superproductions of oscillating quality. The trip was over.

In 1967 he sold his house on Doctor Arce Street and settled in London. As he stated in his memoirs, nothing of those years would have changed: "The good and the bad, the night, the drunkenness, the dances at dawn, and all those not-so-great people I met and loved ..."

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