April 25-27 in 2002 marked the weekend in Greensboro, NC for the UFDC region 8 conference, A Weekend With Ava Gardner. The souvenir doll was Robert Tonner's first Ava Gardner doll, a 14" porcelain beauty! Thanks to Robert's eye to detail, his creativity and his wonderful Tonner Doll Co., each attendee received this lovely doll dressed in a ruffle trimmed teddy, sheer stockings, black ankle-strap heels, faux "diamond" earrings and matching necklace. The doll has never been removed from the box nor has any of the bubble wrap over neck, the arms and legs been disturbed. I photographed the doll exactly as my Mom received her 14 years ago. The "diamond" necklace remains sealed in a little clear plastic bag, I unfastened the clear plastic protecting the doll's head to take a better close-up facial photograph and refastened it, and I did remove the COA from it's plastic bag to take a photograph of it. Ava's dark brown hair is carefully arranged in a roll style. This doll is number 258 of 260. Unless the doll was signed by Robert prior to it's being boxed, I assume it is unsigned. I'm not going to disturb the packaging and clothing to check for a signature. The head swivels, has delicately painted features, and the body is jointed at the shoulders and hips. Ava's nail polish and lipstick match the red flower on her dress.
Included is MIB "Ava Gardner Fashion" consisting of a black "V" neck sleeveless evening dress with full skirt, a large brim black "horsehair" hat with black feather trim, long black gloves and a pair of black high heel sandals. The outfit remains attached to it's cardboard backing, and was only removed from the box for photographs. The outfit is accompanied by the COA, also a LE of 260. As table " favors", we received a wonderful gold tone hat pin made with jet beads and a rose colored bead, a doll size clapperboard, (on the reverse of which is written Ava 2002), a silver-plate frame containing a copy of a photo of Ava and Frank Sinatra taken on their wedding day, a folder with Ava's image on the cover, with two inside pockets, one of which holds a book of Ava Gardner paper cut-out doll and clothes, and in the other pocket are 2 pamphlets not associated to the convention. Both the boxed doll and boxed outfit are packed inside the original Tonner shipper's box.
Ms. Gardner's relatives living in NC at that time were active participants in the conference, making this one of the most memorable regionals I had attended.
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