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I was at the first Ava Gardner Day, and it was a flop! I invited two male friends from Zebulon to come enjoy the day, see a free movie at the Howell Theatre, take the tour and ride on the Johnston County Area Transportation System bus for $15 to “take it all in.”
The tents, vendors and swing band on the courthouse lawn were great, but when we found ourselves at the Howell Theatre, the movie was “The Killers” with Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster. And then we three were the only ones at the Heritage Museum to go on the tour, so it was canceled. Doesn’t that tell you something?
Of course, the attendees, we’re dying out — Smithfieldites and the young had no attraction to knowing about Ava in the ‘40s when silent movies went “talky.” And Ava broke the barrier of being sexy, marrying the biggest box-office moneymaker at the time, Mickey Rooney.
Editor’s Note: The 2019 Ava Gardner Festival is planned for May 31 and June 1 at the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield.