U.S. Rep. David Rouzer wants to see Ava Gardner on a postage stamp.
In a recent letter to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, Rouzer encouraged the U.S. Post Service to honor the Johnston County native who starred in such classic films as “The Killers,” “Mogambo” and “The Barefoot Contessa.”
“Ava Gardner is a North Carolina treasure and an international film legend,” Rouzer said in a statement. “Despite her success on the silver screen, Ava never forgot her humble Johnston County roots.”
The congressman also noted Gardner’s work giving back to her community and entertaining America’s troops in USO shows.
“I am proud to call Ava Gardner a fellow North Carolinian and hope to see her memory honored with a ‘Forever’ stamp – just as it should be,” Rouzer said.
The Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield has long lobbied for a postage stamp honoring the Hollywood star, executive director Deanna Brandenberger said. This year would be a fitting time for that dream to come true, Brandenberger said, because January marked the 25th anniversary of Gardner’s death.
Brandenberger also pointed out that the postal service has previously honored many of Gardner’s friends and contemporaries, including Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Gregory Peck, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra, who was Gardner’s third husband.
Gardner was born eight miles east of Smithfield in an area called Grabtown. The actress made numerous trips back to Smithfield after becoming famous, Brandenberger said, and her museum continues to draw 10,000 to 12,000 visitors to the town each year.
“Ava is still doing good for this community, and it would be great for us to be able to give something back in her memory,” Brandenberger said.
Gardner became eligible for a stamp 10 years after her death, and former Rep. Bob Etheridge pushed the idea without success throughout the 2000s. However, in 2006, Etheridge was able to get the Smithfield Post Office renamed to the Ava Gardner Post Office.
Elinor Smith of St. Petersburg, Fla., was visiting her friend in Raleigh last week and they decided to take a trip down to the Ava Gardner Museum. Smith said she has enjoyed a number of Gardner’s films, and her favorite is the 1959 post-apocalyptic drama “On the Beach.” Smith said she thought a postage stamp would make a fitting tribute to Gardner’s legacy.
“It’s always a nice commemoration for somebody to be remembered like that,” she said.