Friday, February 14, 2014

Ava Gardner Statue in "One Touch of Venus"

In the annals of beautiful actresses, Ava Gardner stands out of the crowd. Maybe it was because she had an inner beauty of spirit that matched her physical beauty. And she was absolutely ravishing, wasn't she? It's those easy, effortless lovely qualities that you fall in love with so easily and she possessed them all. It's my love of her beauty to which I devote my post today on Valentine's Day, the day glorifying all love.
Ava Gardner as Venus
One Touch of Venus (Universal, 1948)
Now, just as a quick note, while I always watch the movies I write about, I have never seen One Touch of Venus. But, not only is Venus the Roman goddess of love; not only is it a wonderful romantic comedy; not only is Ava Gardner absolutely beautiful; but the statue in it is so perfect that I couldn't wait until I had the time to see the film. So, I'm going to rely on my internet summaries and some cursory research. But, seriously, you have to agree, how great it is that Ava Gardner, a woman of "mythic beauty" should literally play the personification of love.

One Touch of Venus (1948) is a musical romantic-comedy which was adapted from a stage play of the same name. Of note, the famous comedic poet Ogden Nash co-wrote the book of the Broadway play. Not only does it star the beautiful Ava Gardner as the titular Venus, but Robert Walker (of Strangers on a Train fame) also co-stars. The film is about a window-dresser (Walker) who falls in love with a department store's beautiful statue of Venus that magically comes to life for him. Comedy, confusion, and romance ensues and the film ends with the window dresser getting a girl, not the girl (but she's pretty darn close).
Nicolosi and Gardner near the finished product
So obviously, the statue in the film plays a very large role. In fact, it plays the main role. Therefore, Universal spared no expense and sent Ava to famous sculptor Joseph Nicolosi. Famously, Nicolosi ,as he was sculpting this Greco-Roman muse complained how her bikini messed up the natural line of her body and Ava, after a couple of drinks, just consented and posed topless for him. Not surprisingly, Nicolosi was very pleased with his effort and thoroughly enjoyed the modeling sessions.
Of course, the result certainly befit the goddess of eroticism, but perhaps not the feel-good Hollywood musical of the '50s, and the Studio bosses and producers were shocked with what they saw. Nicolosi was forced to make his goddess a little more age-appropriate (though, I have to say, it still is a little racy).
Model and Statue
Later, the Universal publicity department decided that they were going to create small models to give to members of the press and media as promotional items. The art department created a tiny model but sent it to Ava for approval first. According to an account by publicist Bob Rains in the biography Ava Gardner: "Love is Nothing" by Lee Server,

"She looked it over and laughed. She said, 'That's not my figure.' And then, with a cute smile on her face, she pinched off some clay from the chest area and stuck it to the rear end. She smoothed it on with her finger and made the fanny bigger. She said, "That's more like my ass.'" (Server, 155)
Ava in a publicity shot gazing at a copy of
the famous classical statue, Venus de Milo:
She got nothing on you, Ava.
I mean, how great is that? It just shows Ava's beloved "what the hell" attitude, but also her sweetness and humor. No wonder Sinatra loved her so much...  And speaking of my love of Ava and my love of the art of film, I hope on this Valentine's Day, I hope you can spend it with someone you love. Or at least a rom-com that you love: Affair to Remember, here I come.

Server, Lee. Ava Gardner: "Love is Nothing." New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2006.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for proving this, Do you know if this same statue of AG is the one used in THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA??


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