Happy 100th Birthday, Ava Lavinia Gardner!

Today I celebrated in style. I got two dozen yellow roses to arrange in a display, and since some of the rose heads had fallen off, the cashier gave me one dozen for free. It was a kind gesture, one that I feel added to the specialness of this occasion. I also baked a coconut cake, her mother’s coconut cake that she always baked for Ava for her birthday. After her mother passed, Ava always had a coconut cake for her birthday for the rest of her life, no matter where she was in the world. To pay tribute to this remarkable lady, I sang through all of her songs, listened to them, and reflected on what film she was doing and where she was in her life when she had the opportunity to sing.
As I set up a display this morning, with the cake and the roses and the photo, I added two green emerald candles on the cake. When I took the photo of my display, I noticed a light reflected in the mirror of the photo (from the candles, no doubt), but, like the rose gesture from the kind cashier, I felt it was a sign that maybe Ava does appreciate the celebration and gestures of gratitude toward her, long after she has passed. I like to think that she herself is celebrating, enjoying some cake, laughing loudly, and being the best version of herself. That’s the most, and the best, any of us could hope for on any given day, let alone on a Centennial birthday.
Happy Birthday to Ms. Ava Gardner, a one-of-a-kind, dynamite lady, who stayed true to herself and paved the way for many of us to stand tall, be proud of who we are, and live life to the fullest. Here’s hoping the next 100 years are just as grand. 💚💚

One Touch of Venus

Lately I’ve been getting back to my musical theatre roots, and I’ve revisited the Ogden Nash/Kurt Weill musical “One Touch of Venus.” It’s a musical that is on my list of shows that I would love to do!! I’ve studied the play, the score, & the libretto, and learned most of the songs as well. I can’t state enough how much I love this show!! The character Venus is so well-written and speaks to me on many levels. Obviously there is the Ava Gardner connection (great casting choice IMHO) but I knew of “One Touch of Venus” (and the music) long before I ever began studying and learning about Ava Gardner.

Recently, I found some original photos online of the 1948 film production of “One Touch of Venus” and I was able to purchase a few stills. I’m so happy with my growing collection of vintage pics! They have inspired me to re-read the play and get out my songs! I am enjoying singing through and working on them again.

In the meanwhile, if you haven’t heard of, read, or seen this gem, check it out in any and all ways you can! 📕📽 I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do! I always try to credit photographers, so shoutout to Don Ornitz. His name was the only one on the back of any of the photographs I bought. (See the last pic). 📸

Ava Gardner & Robert Walker are so cute together in the film, and it features a stellar supporting cast as well (a HILARIOUS Eve Arden, Olga San Juan, Dick Haymes, & Tom Conway). Also, Ava (Venus) has some memorable lines in the film.
“Poor mortal, are you frightened?” Enjoy!!

“Situation Wanted”

Last year I spent most of December celebrating Ava Gardner’s birthday month by singing songs from her films and making videos of myself cooking recipes from her family cookbook. I didn’t get to all of her recipes or songs (in all truthfulness I was not able to find the sheet music), however over the course of this last year I was able to find more sheet music to songs she sang. Recently, I recorded the song “Situation Wanted” from the 1949 film “The Bribe” – an underrated noir film. She was dubbed by Eileen Wilson in the film, but I still think Ava did a great job starring as night club singer Elizabeth Hintten and performing this song in the film. The music is by Nació Herb Brown and lyrics by William Katz. Enjoy!!

Happy 99th Birthday to Ms. Ava Gardner!!

Born in 1922 in Grabtown, North Carolina, Ava Gardner would have been 99 years young today! Reading and studying her life and career has been a great joy of mine over the last few years. I recently acquired this original photo from a movie she filmed when living in Spain called, ”The Angel Wore Red.“ It’s a moody film with an interesting, engaging plot. I enjoyed it immensely! Worth a watch if you haven’t discovered it yet.
The red glasses were also ones she personally owned and used in her daily life, and I am thrilled to say that they are now in my personal collection. I’ll happily use them today and make a toast in honor of her birthday! Lastly, yellow roses were her favorite flowers, and I can’t say I blame her. I love the bold, bright colors as well. Stunning!! 🍷🍷🎁🎁
Happy Birthday, Ava!! ❤❤💛💛

Strawberry Cobbler for New Year’s Eve!!

Tonight is the last night of my Ava December project! For the special occasion of New Year’s Eve, I decided to make her recipe for strawberry cobbler! It was a tasty recipe that I was happy to try out! Even though strawberries are not in season, I actually found a ripe strawberry on my strawberry plant in my garden, which I thought was a good sign for ringing in the new year with hope, health, and happiness!!

Thank you so much for joining me on this month-long project. It has been a great learning experience for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Take care, and happy 2021 to us all.

Don’t Tell Me – by Buddy Pepper

Welcome to Week Five of Ava December! It is officially the last week of my Ava Gardner project celebrating her life, and I couldn’t be happier with all the work and videos that have come out of my efforts.

Today I am celebrating the song “Don’t Tell Me,” with music and lyrics by Buddy Pepper. Ava Gardner starred in the 1947 film “The Hucksters” (also starring Clark Gable and Deborah Kerr). Ava’s character, Jean Ogilvie, a songstress, sings “Don’t Tell Me” opposite a grand piano on a beautiful big stage. I did my best to imagine the stage. 😉

Once again, I was happy to be accompanied by Mr. DB on the piano. Wardrobe assistance and dress design by the beautiful and creative Martaine!

Happy 98th Birthday, Ava!!

Today is December 24th, which means it is Miss Ava Gardner’s 98th birthday!! In honor of the special occasion, I decided to bake a coconut cake for her. It is a recipe that her mom used to make for her every year on her birthday. It came out splendidly! Lots of coconut shreds, flakes, and chips!! Cooking the sugar was a new experience for me, as was baking four layers!! Such a delight to bake this cake in her honor. Enjoy!!

Happy Birthday, Ava!!!!

Celebrating Ava’s 98th birthday in style! Thanks for watching and keeping up with my month-long tribute to Ava Gardner. More cooking & singing videos to come next week! Stay tuned!

Happy Birthday & Merry Christmas Eve to all!!

Coming Thru The Rye

Welcome to week four of Ava December!! Happy Ava Tuesday!! In honor of Ava’s birthday week, I have a special surprise today!! Read on…

In 1953, Ava Gardner starred in the John Ford film, “Mogambo” which was a remake of the 1932 film, “Red Dust.” Ava’s performance as Eloise “Honeybear” Kelly in the film garnered her an Oscar nomination, the only one in her long career. 

In this film, Honeybear sings the Scottish folk tune, “Comin thru the rye” one night after dinner; dancing, swaying, and enjoying every moment of the song. In Ava’s own words (from her autobiography “Ava: My Life”):

“As far as my career as an actress went, Mogambo was probably as close to a pinnacle as anything I’ve done. For someone with my naturally irreverent temperament, playing a sassy, tough-talking playgirl who whistles at men, drinks whiskey straight from the bottle, and says about wine, ‘Any year, any model, they all bring out my better nature’ was a gift from the gods. I never felt more comfortable in a part before or since, and I was even allowed to improvise some of my dialogue. Yet if you would have told me that I’d feel this way about a film directed by John Ford, I would have sent you straight to Artie Shaw’s psychiatrist.” 

I was excited to learn this song, and when it came time to performing, I was actually able to wear a dress that my mother designed and had made for her. In the 1970’s she attended the San Francisco Opera in this dress, notably seeing Tosca from a box seat. For this reason, this video and this performance is very near and dear to me, as I am honoring both Ava Gardner and my mother, who was so generous in letting me borrow her gown AND her pearls. Thank you!!