She moved to California from Norfolk Virginia, married Mickey Rooney, and was asked to lose her Carolina accent. She might have lost the accent but she never lost the Carolina way.
She was wooed by the reclusive Howard Hughes and proved that Southern Girls Kick Ass; she knocked out Howard Hughes for slapping her. She knew how to defend herself. She "split his face open from temple to mouth, knocked out two of his teeth, and loosened others."(Gardner 81) She felt no remorse. She was a tough North Carolina girl, and once asked "didn't all virtuous North Carolina girls sleep with a gun under their heads?(ibid 131)
She retained her Reformed Presbyterian principles in the hustle bustle of Hollywoodland. "I came to Hollywood almost pathologically shy, a country girl with a country girl's simple, ordinary values."(ibid 114) Being simple did not mean that she was a dummy, nor that she was merely effective.
For instance she could beat men at their own games: Artie Shaw gave Ava chess lessons from a Russian Master Chess Player; Ava then was able to checkmate Shaw in less than an half-hour. Shaw, a sore loser, would never play Ms. Gardner again.
Some of the Noted Men, Ava Dated:
Gardner, Ava. Ava My Story New York: Bantam Books, 1990.