Sunday, December 18, 2016

Obituary: Zsa Zsa Gabor

Often-married actress and socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor, the last of the famed Gabor sisters, has died at the age of 99. She had suffered from a variety of health ailments over the years, to say nothing of financial loss when she was victimized by crook Bernie Madoff.

Gabor was married at least eight times, about a record for Hollywood, the last to some much-younger, bogus prince who clearly married her for money and fame. Yeah, they were married about 30 years, and he cared for her in her declining years, but I don't think much of him after he publicly humiliated his wife when he boasted of having an affair with Anna Nicole Smith, and then he claimed paternity of her daughter, which of course was bullshit.

Gabor had a colorful life. She was one of the three daughters of Jolie and Vilmos Gabor. She was the second daughter. Her oldest sister, Magda, was born in 1914 (some sources say 1915), while Zsa Zsa (born Sari Gabor in Budapest) was born in 1917. Younger sister Eva came along in 1919. All three daughters were known and celebrated for not telling their true ages. It didn't really matter much.

Zsa Zsa had a daughter, Francesca, with Conrad Hilton, but she passed away awhile back. Since Zsa Zsa Gabor was the only one of the sisters who had children and Francesca was her only child, that was the end of that particular Gabor branch. She is survived by her bogus prince Frederic von Anhalt or whoever the hell he is.

All three sisters, while they liked to marry and marry well, were not idiots. They were highly independent women. Eva was more of a serious actress than Zsa Zsa was, but all three of them had their own money and didn't really need to live off of men.

Zsa Zsa also had many romances. Supposedly she lost her virginity to the founder of Turkey, Ataturk, when she was supposedly 15, according to her autobiography, but of course the timeline is little bit off because she was known to lower her age a bit. From there were lots and lots of other men.

She had a well-publicized affair with Porfirio Rubirosa, a diplomat who was better known for his bedroom skills than his diplomatic prowess, but Zsa Zsa had very fond memories of him. She did for most of the men in her life. The one man she said was the great love of her life was acerbic actor George Sanders, and she always regretted that she couldn't make that relationship work. He committed suicide in 1972. On the other hand, one man she was pressured to sleep with and whose guts she hated was Frank Sinatra. It is all there in her book, One Lifetime is Not Enough.

From the NYT obit:

Married at least eight times, calling everyone “Dahlink,” flaunting a diamonds-and-furs lifestyle and abetted by gossip columnists and tabloid headline writers, Ms. Gabor played the coiffed platinum femme fatale in plunging necklines in dozens of film and television roles, many of them cameos as herself. Her career, which began with the title Miss Hungary in 1936, was still going strong in the 1990s, outlasting those of her sisters, Eva and Magda, celebrities in their own right. She was the last surviving Gabor sister.

“A girl must marry for love, and keep on marrying until she finds it,” Ms. Gabor once said. Her husbands included a Turkish diplomat, the hotel heir Conrad Hilton, the actor George Sanders, an industrialist, an oil magnate, a toy designer, a divorce lawyer and a man often referred to in the news media as the Duke of Saxony. Another marriage that nobody counted — a case of bigamy at sea with a has-been Mexican actor — lasted only a day and was annulled.

In 1989, she was arrested for slapping a police officer who had pulled her over for a traffic violation and found that her license had expired and that she had an open vodka bottle in her car, a Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible. Breezing into court, she took the stand and, by turns haughty, coquettish, weepy and coarse, spoke of Gestapo tactics in Beverly Hills. The judge gave her 72 hours in jail.

Zsa Zsa was a fixture on television for many years, while her movie career was mostly made up of decorative roles. She did have a prominent role as the heroine in the 1958 cult classic, Queen of Outer Space. Laurie Mitchell, not Zsa Zsa, played the title role in a film that was more tongue-in-cheek than anything remotely serious as science fiction. Gabor wound up with the male hero of the flick, Eric Fleming, who frankly looked bewildered throughout the filming.

Here is an interview she gave on Phil Donahue's program in 1991:

Gabor took the deaths of her sisters and mother very hard. They were a close family. Zsa Zsa was perhaps the one who garnered the most headlines, while Eva seriously pursued an acting career with much success and Magda mostly stayed out of the limelight especially after suffering a stroke years before her death. When Eva, Magda, and mother Jolie died, Zsa Zsa began retreating from public life. After her near-fatal car accident in 2002, she went into seclusion.

Fun fact: Because the Gabors were known to hide their true ages, none of their grave markers have a date of birth, only the day each woman died. Only Zsa Zsa's daughter Francesca has both dates on her marker. I would assume the same will be the case with Zsa Zsa of having only the date of her death.

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