Ava Gardner was the sex symbol who dazzled the other sex symbols. Elizabeth Taylor and Lana Turner thought her the most beautiful woman they had ever seen. She drove Frank Sinatra to the brink of suicide. Ernest Hemingway carried around one of her kidney stones as a sacred memento. Howard Hughes begged her to marry him: she punched out his front teeth. Her charismatic presence, jaw-dropping beauty and scandalous adventures fuelled the legend that she became. Yet she was a farmgirl who became a reluctant goddess, and who retreated from the world's gaze for the last years of her life. Filled with fresh insights gleaned from interviews with Ava's colleagues, friends and lovers, this is the definitive biography of Hollywood's most glamorous, restless and uninhibited star.