Shirley Bassey talks about her encounter with Ava Gardner and about the “Something” dress
On March 27,1951, during a period of intense personal and professional problems, Frank Sinatra
entered the Columbia studios in New York to record “I’m A Fool To Want You” for the first time. It’s a song he more than just help compose; he lived it. Many consider the recording, which is posted here, to be the most emotion-filled performance of his career, or at least the most moving of the song, anyway.
You hear a youthful, vulnerable Sinatra filled with tremendous sorrow. It was a time in his life he later described as “all Mondays.” His first marriage was essentially over. His career was in a downward spiral and about to crash: within a year’s time Columbia did not renew his recording contract; he was dropped by his talent agency; his TV show was canceled. He was considered, well, finished. Plus, he nearly was broke financially. Oh, then there was his torrid affair with actress Ava Gardner
Nothing in life wounded Sinatra more than his relationship with her. Their affair was once described as “a two-year soap opera with screaming fights heard around the world.” Sinatra’s intensely passionate and wildly stormy relationship with Gardner–“The Last Goddess” was “the”
love of his life–has been well documented. It was one of the most dramatic and heavily reported Hollywood affairs in the early 1950’s. At the time, the two were the rage–and he, the contempt–of every gossip rag.
But Gardner was the only one who could damage him. And how his love for her left him damaged.
If the reports are true, Sinatra attempted to take his own life on two different occasions to end the severe pain that gripped him over losing Gardner. His need for her was that great.
Frank Sinatra’s version of “I’m a fool to want you”
Shirley Bassey’s version of “I’m a fool to want you”
The Something Dress – a sensational bias cut stage gown by Douglas Darnell, the sleeveless citrus yellow sateen applied with paisley cones embroidered with Swarovski clear crystals, turquoise beads and imitation pearls with strategically placed cut-out shaped sections; with matching voluminous stage coat of citrus yellow velvet, the sleeves, collar and opening trimmed with a deep border of yellow ostrich feathers, the sleeves applied with paisley cones similarly embroidered and scattered with crystals and beads, lined in electric blue silk tissue; and a pair of stiletto heeled sandals, the thin leather straps and heels painted yellow to match the gown; accompanied by a corresponding album Something, United Artists, 1970.
This dress is closely associated with Dame Shirley’s 1970 hit single written by George Harrison, Something. The gown was worn for the photo shoot for the front cover of the United Artists’ album of the same name released that year. In an interview for the BBC Wales television programme I Am What I Am, 1994, Dame Shirley said that she thought this dress was …sexy, without being over the top…. She also recounted a story of wearing the dress on stage in the Empire Room at the Plaza Hotel, New York. When introducing the song I Capricorn she said “I happen to be a Capricorn” and a voice in the audience called out “I’m a Capricorn too”, peering into the crowd she saw that it was Ava Gardner “looking gorgeous”…she said as she wasn’t ringside and couldn’t get to her easily, she hitched up the gown and walked over to her across the tables – defying any man on the way who looked as though he would attempt to touch her flesh through the holes in the dress, not to. Sold at Christies Gown Auction in 2003. Final Price £6,000.
Shirley performing “The lady is a tramp” wearing the “Something” dress
A special “thank you” to Pablo Aharonian for the Ava Gardner pictures