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Published Sat, Sep 01, 2012 08:00 PM
Modified Fri, Aug 31, 2012 01:40 PM

Ava Festival to return in fall

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Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner co-starred in three films together and called each other “great old pals.” The eighth annual Ava Gardner Festival, scheduled for Oct. 5-7, will commemorate Gardner and Peck’s 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 Gardner “outspoken,” “refreshing” and a “fine actress.”

The opening “Great Sinner” Gala on Friday, Oct. 5, will include casino games to echo the theme of the movie, which was based on the 1866 short novel, “The Gambler,” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Every attendee will have a chance to win prizes, including two tickets for The Embers’ five-day beach music cruise from Tampa, Fla., to Cozumel and the Grand Caymans. Tickets to the opening reception are $50 each, and the festivities begin at 7 p.m.

Gardner and Peck starred together in the “The Great Sinner,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “On the Beach.” On Saturday, Oct. 6, the museum plans to show two movies, “The Great Sinner” and “On the Beach.” Also, the museum plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the filming of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and show the film on Sunday, Oct. 7.

On Saturday, guided heritage tours will take visitors to places of significance to Garner, including her birthplace, the Brogden teacherage where she grew up and her gravesite in Smithfield’s Sunset Memorial Park. All-day admission to the Ava Gardner Museum is $7, and heritage tour tickets are $12.

The Ava Gardner Museum is located at 325 E. Market St. in downtown Smithfield. For more information, visit www.avagardner.org, or call 919-934-5830 to purchase tickets in advance.

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