Skip to main content

From Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner to Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe, Hollywood has seen its fair share of scandalous affairs that have rocked the industry. Though we are more well-versed now on more current scandals like the Khloé Kardashian, Tristan Thompson, and Jordyn Woods love triangle, some of Hollywood’s classic affairs were a lot juicier.

Sinatra and Gardner’s red hot affair was the stuff of legends. It was full of money woes, lies, and deceit. Here’s what went down between the actor and music legend.

Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner
Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner | Library of Congress

Frank Sinatra was obsessed with Ava Gardner before they even met

Sinatra married his first wife, Nancy, in 1931. However, when success thrust him into the spotlight, he had no interest in being a stable father or husband. By the 1940s, even before they’d met in person, he’d become obsessed with Gardner, who was a major MGM star.

Before the superstars even met, the entertainer saw a photo of The Barefoot Contessa star and reportedly told friends, “I’m going to marry that woman.” The Ocean’s 11 actor didn’t bother with a divorce before he and Gardner began their affair.

The pair began dating in 1949 and were first spotted publically in 1950 at dinner. In 1951, Sinatra’s first wife granted him a divorce and he married The Killers actor days later. He reportedly told Gardner via The Vintage News,  “All of my life, being a singer was the most important thing in the world, now you’re all I want.”

Ava Gardner saved Frank Sinatra’s career

By the time Gardner and Sinatra wed in 1951, the “Come Fly With Me” singer’s career was on a downward spiral. MGM had terminated his contract and he had been out of work for sometime.

“Frank was flat broke when we tied the knot,” Gardner told Vanity Fair. “I don’t know where those stories came from that the Mafia was taking care of him. They should have been. But the…Family was nowhere to be seen when he needed them.”

Fueled by jealousy and pain, the legendary singer got into vicious fights with his wife and attempted suicide three times. However, Gardner tried everything she could to save her husband, ultimately revitalizing his career when she pulled strings to get him a screen test for From Here to Eternity.

The film ultimately relaunched Sinatra’s career. However, the cheating and chaos on both sides never stopped.


Frank Sinatra Was Buried With Some Surprising Items

Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner’s marriage was volatile

Though Sinatra was regaining his footing by the end of the marriage, the law straw was reportedly Gardner’s second abortion. “I’m afraid there’s no coming back from this. What I’ve done is so monstrous,” she reportedly said. The Show Boat actress was convinced her relationship was too volatile to bring children into.

The pair eventually divorced in 1957, and despite the turmoil of their relationship, they reportedly loved each other until the end. Gardner reportedly called Sinatra the love of her life. When Gardner died in 1990, Sinatra was inconsolable. “I should have been there for her,” he was reported saying.