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Ava's ClosetAt the 2014 Ava Gardner Festival, the Museum unveiled its newest exhibit in the Museum’s largest showcase, Ava's Closet.
Whether her personal wardrobe or the fashion of the movies, visitors to the museum are fascinate by the size of her waist. One of the most frequent questions or comments are about her waist size of The Great Sinner dress she wore at age 27. The museum curatorial staff measured the waist at 19".
For the first time ever, the orange silk dress that was a gift from Howard Hughes has been fitted to a mannequin and displayed for visitors to enjoy. This dress was made by renowned Hollywood costume designer, Howard Greer, who started his career with Paramount and went independent in 1927. Greer designed for Hollywood stars such as Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, and Rita Hayworth, personally and professionally until 1962. Dubbed the “Designer to the Stars,” Greer was one of Hollywood’s earliest celebrity designers.
One of the latest exhibits features photographs and accessories from Ava's homes in California, New York, Spain, and England. One of her favorite homes was La Bruja (Spanish for "witch") in the Madrid suburb of La Moraleja, where she moved in December 1955. According to her autobiography, Ava, My Story, the house had a witch, "complete with broomstick...doing duty as the weathervane," hence the name. Since the house was unfurnished, she and housekeeper Reenie Jordan scoured Madrid for furniture and accessories. "I filled La Bruja with books and records and, for the first time since I'd left North Carolina, I felt I was home."
The museum recently acquired two brass lions which reportedly greeted visitors at the gateway to one of Ava's two Spanish homes. A number of items from her plush London apartment, where she lived 1968-1990, are also on display.
Gregory and Ava Exhibit - "Great Old Pals"
The 8th Annual Ava Gardner Festival commemorated Gardner and Peck’s life-long friendship with new exhibits, heritage tours, and vintage movies. Gardner and Peck starred together in the The Great Sinner, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, and On the Beach.
Peck once said, “It’s very hard to dominate Ava because of her essential strength of character, her honesty and this almost unreal beauty.” Their friendship lasted the entirety of their careers and upon her death he called Ava “outspoken”, “refreshing” and a “fine actress.” In Ava's biography, Peck referred to Ava as his "great old pal." Peck visited the museum at the old location on 3rd Street when on location in Raleigh for a film project.