Zsa Zsa Gabor
|Zsa Zsa Gabor|
Gabor in 1959
February 6, 1917
|Died||December 18, 2016 (aged 99)
Bel-Air, Los Angeles, California, United States
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Children||Francesca Hilton (1947–2015)|
|Parent(s)||Jolie Gabor (mother)
Vilmos Gábor (father)
|Relatives||Magda Gabor (sister)
Eva Gabor (sister)
Zsa Zsa Gabor (/ˈʒɑːʒɑː ˈɡɑːbɔːr, ɡəˈbɔːr/ ZHAH-zhah GAH-bor, gə-BOR; Hungarian: [ˈʒɒʒɒ ˈɡaːbor]; born Sári Gábor [ˈʃaːri ˈɡaːbor]; February 6, 1917 – December 18, 2016) was a Hungarian-American actress and socialite. Her sisters were actresses Eva and Magda Gabor.
Gabor began her stage career in Vienna and was crowned Miss Hungary in 1936. She emigrated from Hungary to the United States in 1941 and became a sought-after actress with “European flair and style” and was considered to have a personality that “exuded charm and grace”. Her first film role was a supporting role in Lovely to Look At. She later acted in We’re Not Married! and played one of her few leading roles in the John Huston-directed film, Moulin Rouge (1952). Huston would later describe her as a “creditable” actress.
Outside of her acting career, Gabor was known for her extravagant Hollywood lifestyle, glamorous personality, and her many marriages. In total, Gabor had nine husbands, including hotel magnate Conrad Hilton and actor George Sanders. She once stated, “Men have always liked me and I have always liked men. But I like a mannish man, a man who knows how to talk to and treat a woman – not just a man with muscles.”
Early life and ancestry
Zsa Zsa Gabor was born Sári Gábor on February 6, 1917 in Budapest, Hungary, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The middle of three daughters, her parents were Vilmos, a soldier, and Jolie (née Janka Tilleman) Gabor. Her parents were both of Jewish ancestry. Along with her mother and sisters, Gabor escaped Hungary in 1941 following the Nazi occupation of Budapest.
Gabor’s elder sister, Magda, eventually became an American socialite and her younger sister, Eva, would become an American actress and businesswoman. Gabor was a first cousin of Annette Lantos, who would eventually become the wife of Holocaust survivor, congressman Tom Lantos.
In April 2016, Gabor expressed her wish to move back to Hungary during 2017 and live out the rest of her life there. Her husband stated he was determined to make her wish come true and intended to arrange for “a big party in the summer” to celebrate the actress’ 100th birthday, after which she would return to Budapest.
According to Gabor, she was discovered by operatic tenor Richard Tauber on a trip to Vienna in 1934, following her time as a student at the Swiss boarding school. Tauber invited Gabor to sing the soubrette role in his new operetta, Der singende Traum (The Singing Dream), at the Theater an der Wien. This would mark her first stage appearance. In 1936, she was crowned Miss Hungary.
In 1944, she co-wrote a novel with writer Victoria Wolf titled, “Every Man For Himself”. According to Gabor, the fictional story was derived, in a small part, from Gabor’s life experiences. The book was subsequently bought by an American magazine. In 1949, Gabor declined an offer to play the leading role in a film version of the classic book Lady Chatterley’s Lover. According to an article written the Cedar Rapids Gazette in 1949, she turned down the role of Lady Chatterley due to the story’s controversial theme.
Her more serious film acting credits include Moulin Rouge, Lovely to Look At and We’re Not Married!, all from 1952, and 1953’s Lili. In 1958, she ran the gamut of moviemaking, appearing in Touch of Evil (1958) and the camp oddity Queen of Outer Space (1958). Later, she appeared in such ditzy ditties as Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976) and Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie (1984). She did cameos for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) and A Very Brady Sequel (1996) and voiced a character in the animated Happily Ever After (1990).
She was also a regular guest on television shows, appearing with Milton Berle, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Howard Stern, David Frost, Arsenio Hall, Phil Donahue, and Joan Rivers. She was a guest on the Bob Hope specials, the Dean Martin Roasts, “The Hollywood Squares“, “Laugh-In,” “Batman” and “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.”
Author Gerold Frank, who helped Gabor write her autobiography in 1960, describes his impressions of her:
Zsa Zsa is unique. She’s a woman from the court of Louis XV who has somehow managed to live in the 20th century, undamaged by the PTA … She says she wants to be all the Pompadours and Du Barrys of history rolled into one, but she also says, “I always goof. I pay all my own bills. … I want to choose the man. I do not permit men to choose me.”
In his autobiography, television host Merv Griffin, who was known to spend time with Gabor’s younger sister Eva socially, wrote in his autobiography of the Gabor sisters’ initial presence in New York and Hollywood: “All these years later, it’s hard to describe the phenomenon of the three glamorous Gabor girls and their ubiquitous mother. They burst onto the society pages and into the gossip columns so suddenly, and with such force, it was as if they’d been dropped out of the sky.”
Gabor was married nine times. She was divorced seven times, and one marriage was annulled. “All in all – I love being married”, she wrote in her autobiography. “I love the companionship, I love cooking for a man (simple things like chicken soup and my special Dracula’s goulash from Hungary), and spending all my time with a man. Of course I love being in love – but it is marriage that really fulfills me. But not in every case.” Her husbands, in chronological order, were:
- Burhan Asaf Belge (1937–1941; divorced)
- Conrad Hilton (April 10, 1942 – 1947; divorced) “Conrad’s decision to change my name from Zsa Zsa to Georgia symbolized everything my marriage to him would eventually become. My Hungarian roots were to be ripped out and my background ignored. … I soon discovered that my marriage to Conrad meant the end of my freedom. My own needs were completely ignored: I belonged to Conrad.”
- George Sanders (April 2, 1949 – April 2, 1954; divorced)
- Herbert Hutner (November 5, 1962 – March 3, 1966; divorced) “Herbert took away my will to work. With his kindness and generosity, he almost annihilated my drive. I have always been the kind of woman who could never be satisfied by money — only excitement and achievement.”
- Joshua S. Cosden, Jr. (March 9, 1966 – October 18, 1967; divorced)
- Jack Ryan (January 21, 1975 – August 24, 1976; divorced)
- Michael O’Hara (August 27, 1976 – 1983; divorced)
- Felipe de Alba (April 13–14, 1983; annulled)
- Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt (August 14, 1986 – December 18, 2016; her death)
Gabor’s divorces inspired her to make numerous quotable puns and innuendos about her marital (and extramarital) history. She commented: “I am a marvelous housekeeper: Every time I leave a man I keep his house.” When asked, “How many husbands have you had?”, she was quoted as responding, “You mean other than my own?” Gabor later claimed to have had a sexual encounter with her stepson, Nicky.
In 1970, Gabor purchased a 8,878-square-foot Hollywood Regency-style home in Bel Air, which once belonged to Elvis Presley, and which was the location where the Beatles visited Presley in 1965. It was originally built by Howard Hughes and featured a unique-looking French style roof. In June 2011, it was announced that Gabor placed the house for sale as it had “gotten too big to manage” for her. Originally put up for sale for $15 million, it was reduced to $12.9 million, and then pulled from the market. In 2012, the house was listed for sale again, at $14.9 million.
Gabor’s only child, daughter Constance Francesca Hilton, was born on March 10, 1947. According to Gabor’s 1991 autobiography One Lifetime Is Not Enough, her pregnancy resulted from rape by then-husband Conrad Hilton. She was the only Gabor sister to have had a child. In 2005, a lawsuit was filed accusing her daughter of larceny and fraud, alleging that she had forged her signature to get a US$2 million loan on her mother’s Bel Air house. However, the Santa Monica Superior Court threw out the case due to Gabor’s failure to appear in court or to sign an affidavit that she indeed was a co-plaintiff on the original lawsuit filed by her husband, Frédéric von Anhalt. Francesca Hilton died in 2015 at the age of 67 from a stroke. Gabor’s husband never told her about her daughter’s death, out of concern for her physical and emotional state.
Gabor and her last husband Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt adopted at least ten adult males who paid them a fee of up to $2,000,000 to become descendants by adoption of Princess Marie-Auguste of Anhalt. Prinz von Anhalt had paid Marie-Auguste to adopt him when he was 36 years old. 
On June 14, 1989, in Beverly Hills, California, Gabor was accused of slapping the face of Beverly Hills police officer Paul Kramer when he stopped her for a traffic violation at 8551 Olympic Boulevard.
On September 29, 1989, a jury convicted the actress of slapping a police officer, driving without a license and possessing an open container of alcohol—a flask of Jack Daniel’s—in her $215,000 Rolls-Royce, but acquitted her on charges of disobeying officer Kramer when she drove away from a routine traffic stop.
On October 25, 1989, Beverly Hills Municipal Judge Charles G. Rubin had sentenced Gabor to serve three days in jail, to pay fines and restitution totaling $12,937, to perform 120 hours of community service—and to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. On June 14, 1990, Gabor decided to drop her conviction appeal and agreed to serve her sentence. However, Gabor refused to take part in community service and served three days in jail between July 27 and July 30, 1990.
2009 financial problems
On January 25, 2009, the Associated Press reported that her attorney stated that forensic accountants determined that Gabor may have lost as much as $10 million invested in Bernie Madoff’s company, possibly through a third-party money manager. However, official records of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York reportedly do not list Gabor as a victim of the Ponzi scheme.
Later life and health
On November 28, 2002, Gabor was a front seat passenger in an automobile crash in Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, from which she remained partially paralyzed and reliant on a wheelchair for mobility. She survived strokes in 2005 and 2007 and underwent surgeries. In 2010, she fractured her hip and underwent a successful hip replacement.
On February 8, 2016, two days after her 99th birthday, Gabor was rushed to hospital after suffering from breathing difficulties. She was diagnosed with a feeding tube-related lung infection and was scheduled to undergo surgery to have her feeding tube removed.
|1953||Jukebox Jury||Musical Judge|
|1955||The Red Skelton Show||Movie Star|
|Climax!||Mme Florizel, Princess Stephanie|
|1956||The Milton Berle Show||Herself||March 13, 1955|
|The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford||Herself||October 18, 1956|
|1956–1961||General Electric Theater||Flora|
|1957||The Life of Riley||Gigi|
|What’s My Line?||Mystery guest||August 18, 1957|
|Playhouse 90||Erika Segnitz, Marita Lorenz|
|The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom||Herself|
|1958||Shower of Stars||Herself||March 20, 1958|
|The Dinah Shore Chevy Show||Herself|
|Make Room for Daddy||Lisa Laslow|
|1963||The Dick Powell Show||Girl|
|1963–1964||Burke’s Law||Anna, the Maid|
|1965||Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||Pilot|
|Gilligan’s Island||Erika Tiffany Smith|
|1966||Alice in Wonderland (or What’s a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?)||The Queen of Hearts||voice|
|The Rounders||Ilona Hobson||Episode “The Scavenger Hunt”|
|1967||Bonanza||Madama Marova||May 7, 1967|
|1968||My Three Sons||Herself|
|Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In||Herself|
|The Name of the Game||Mira Retzyk|
|Batman||Minerva||March 3, 1968|
|1971||Mooch Goes to Hollywood||Narrator||Voice|
|Night Gallery||Mrs. Moore|
|1976||Let’s Make a Deal||Home Viewer|
|1979||Supertrain||Audrey||Episode “A Very Formal Heist”|
|1980||The Love Boat||Annette|
|1981||The Facts of Life||Countess Calvet|
|As the World Turns||Lydia Marlowe||cast member|
|1988||Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special|
|1989||It’s Garry Shandling’s Show||Goddess of Commitment|
|1989||The Munsters Today||Herself|
|1991||The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air||Sonya Lamor|
|1994||Late Show with David Letterman||Herself||Sketch|
|1994||This Is Your Life||Herself||Tribute|
From 1971 to 1983, Gabor appeared in national tours of Forty Carats, Bell, Book and Candle, Blithe Spirit, Arsenic and Old Lace (with her sister, Eva), Finders Will Return, and Ninotchka. Finally, in 1993, she portrayed the Fairy Godmother in UCLA‘s staging of Cinderella.