Hollywood legend Ava Gardner narrowly avoided undergoing plastic surgery in 1957, thanks to the efforts of a British doctor.

The actress - who was renowned for her natural beauty - smashed her cheek in a horse-riding accident and her studio bosses at MGM sent her to have plastic surgery in Los Angeles.

But Gardner went to Raf doctor ARCHIE McINDOE for a second opinion, and he advised her against an operation, claiming the swelling would go down of its own accord.

In THE RECONSTRUCTION OF WARRIORS, a book about McIndoe's work, Gardner says, "I needed Archie McIndoe.

"I knew that in comparison to what was going on with those badly burned pilots, my injury was of almost no consequence. But Archie was a man of enormous compassion and understanding."

After the injury had healed, McIndoe was keen to show that he his advice had worked.

He says, "I rang every newspaper editor in London and said, 'You can come down and photograph Ava Gardner from any angle. And you can see for yourself if any plastic surgery has been done, if any knife has ever touched that magnificent face.'"

27/09/2004 17:45