Ava Gardner Festival Celebrates Friendship of Ava and Gregory Peck, October 5-7

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Ava and Gregory were the best of friends throughout their careers. Gregory Peck referred to Ava as "his great old pal" and he believed in her acting skills, more than Ava herself. In addition to the festival activities, this year the museum will welcome Rene Jordan, Ava's personal assistant who has written a memoir of her life with Ava, called "Living with Miss G". Ms. Jordan will be on hand at the museum on Saturday, October 6th with signed copies of the book for sale.

"The Great Sinner" dress worn by Ava Gardner is a favorite of visitors to the museum.

This year's festival will open with the "The Great Sinner" Casino Night featuring fun games, and a chance for all ticket holders to win a 5-day beach music cruise with The Embers to Cozumel and Grand Cayman, Mexico.

Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner co-starred in three films together and called each other “great old pals.” The 8th Annual Ava Gardner Festival scheduled for October 5-7, 2012 will commemorate Gardner and Peck’s life-long friendship with new exhibits, heritage tours, and vintage movies.

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.”

The opening “Great Sinner” Gala on Friday will include casino games to echo the theme of the movie which was based on the 1866 short novel The Gambler written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Every attendee will be entered into a drawing for two tickets for The Embers Beach Music 5-day Cruise from Tampa, Florida to Cozumel and Grand Cayman, among other prizes. Tickets to the opening reception are $50 each and the festivities begin at 7pm.

Gardner and Peck starred together in the “The Great Sinner,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” and “On the Beach.” All three movies will be shown at the museum on Saturday, October 6th in the museum's theatre. In addition, the museum plans to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the filming of “To Kill a Mockingbird” during the festival and show the film on Sunday afternoon, October 7th at 2pm.

Heritage tours on Saturday will be held throughout the day beginning at 9am. The guided tour takes visitors to places of significance to Ava, such as her birthplace, the Brogden Teacherage where she grew up, and will end at her gravesite at Sunset Memorial Park. All-day admission to the Ava Gardner Museum is $7 and heritage tour tickets are $12.

Rene Jordan, Ava's personal assistant for more than 25 years will be in Smithfield for the annual Ava Gardner Festival, to celebrate the release of her book, "Living with Miss G" and to meet the many Ava Gardner fans who flock to the Ava Gardner Museum to enjoy exhibits, heritage tours, and movie screenings. She will also make time to visit the grave of her employer and best friend for the first time since the star’s death in 1990.

Many of the book’s real-life episodes arguably would rival some of the best fiction on the market. They range from excursions with billionaire Howard Hughes and visits at the Cuban estate of the loveable Ernest (“Papa”) Hemingway to painfully degrading moments in hotels, restaurants and clubs across America where blacks were not welcomed. "Living With Miss G" is available for purchase in paperback and for Kindle on Amazon.com.

The museum has partnered with several area hotels in Smithfield offering an “Ava Festival Package” which includes discount hotel accommodations, a gift bag from the Johnston County Visitors Bureau, and two tickets the museum to enjoy a movie presentation. For more information on hotel accommodations, visit the website: http://www.visitsmithfield.org

The Ava Gardner Museum is located in downtown Smithfield, at 325 E. Market Street. More information may be found on the museum website, http://www.avagardner.org or call 919-934-5830 to purchase tickets in advance. The museum is open Monday-Saturday, 9-5pm and Sunday 2pm-5pm.

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Donna Bailey-Taylor

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