Among the framed photographs that pay homage to the celebrities who have stayed at the Majestic, one from 1953 stands out from the rest. In it, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner are walking down the hotel steps. Surrounded by a clutch of adoring men, she looks radiant. A step behind her, he is scowling and looking almost depressed, despite a faint attempt at a smile.
The picture, which was taken by Michele Breviglieri
, the renowned photographer at the local Resto del Carlino
newspaper, conceals an episode that took place behind the scenes. The night before, in fact, Sinatra had starred in a concert at the Teatro Manzoni
. But halfway through his performance he had left in a furious huff because, knowing that he had come to Bologna in the company of his wife, the audience had begun chanting, “We want Ava, we want Ava!”. The fact was that the actress’s star was shining ever more brightly, and that year she had co-starred in John Ford’s Mogambo
with Clark Gable and Grace Kelly, and was to be nominated for an Oscar for her performance the following year. Frank Sinatra on the other hand was experiencing a decline in his popularity after his first divorce. That night the hotel manager of the time had to use a great deal of tact, not to mention alcohol, to raise the crooner’s spirits.