AVA GARDNER & FRANK SINATRA: As star-crossed stars go, few couples could surpass Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra for interpersonal fireworks. One of Hollywood's most seductive stars, Gardner was a North Carolina native whose sultry sex appeal had led to two marriages (with Mickey Rooney ... more, and then band leader Artie Shaw) and a notorious pursuit (by mogul Howard Hughes, whom she refused) before she became involved with crooner Sinatra. When he left his wife to marry Gardner in 1951, he was vilified by gossip columnists for deserting his marriage to wed the actress. His movie contract with MGM was also coming to an end, adding to the sense that Sinatra's star was falling as his wife's ascended. Passionate fights, separations and reconciliations marked their combustible union, and although Gardner was reportedly instrumental in landing Sinatra his breakthrough dramatic role in 1953's "From Here to Eternity," which earned him a supporting actor Oscar and reversed his career fortunes, the couple parted ways soon after. That dark period also suggests that Gardner may have unwittingly helped Sinatra's musical comeback as well: Signing with Capitol Records, he recorded a classic album, "In the Wee Small Hours," that was a de facto concept album about romantic loss, far darker than his earlier hits and haunted by heartbreak. They finally divorced in 1957. Gardner died in 1990 and Sinatra passed away in 1998.