Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor died Sunday at the age of 99 of a heart attack.
Zsa Zsa would have been a hundred years on 6 February 2017, but that milestone, she has unfortunately not been met. Sunday she was taken to the hospital in a hurry after a heart attack. There the doctors found that the actress was deceased.
Gabor was a socialite who helped invent a new kind of fame out of multiple marriages, conspicuous wealth and jaded wisdom about the glamorous life, Some called her the ‘original Kim Kardashian. Like Kardashian she was known for her personality.
It was not the first time that Zsa Zsa had health problems. Last February she had to be hospitalized because of severe respiratory problems. And in 2002 she partially paralyzed after a car accident. In 2005 she suffered a stroke and five years later she broke her hip. A year later, her right leg had to be amputated after an infection.
Zsa Zsa Gabor was born Sári Gábor (Gábor Sári in Hungarian order) on February 6, 1917 in Budapest (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), the middle of three daughters born to Vilmos Gábor (19 September 1881, Budapest – 7 July 1962, Budapest), a soldier, and Jolie Gabor (née Tilleman; 1896–1997). She was reportedly named after Sári Fedák, a popular Hungarian entertainer. Her elder sister, Magda, was a socialite, and her younger sister Eva, was an actress and businesswoman known for her role as Lisa Douglas on TV’s Green Acres. Their parents were both from Jewish families.
Gabor’s mother, Jolie, was an aunt of Annette Lantos, the wife of Hungarian-born U.S. congressman and Holocaust survivor, Tom Lantos. Jolie barely escaped Hungary after the Nazis occupied Budapest in 1944, crediting Magda’s influential connections with rescuing her: “For Magda’s Portuguese Ambassador [ Garrido ] I thank God. It was this man who saved my life.”
Gabor’s maternal grandmother and uncle Sebastian (Annette Lantos’s father) chose to remain in Budapest feeling they “had a good place to hide.” However, both died during an Allied bombing raid. The fate of Zsa Zsa’s three maternal aunts, Jolie’s sisters, remains unclear.
Following studies at Madame Subilia’s, a Swiss boarding school, Zsa Zsa was discovered by tenor Richard Tauber on a trip to Vienna in 1934 and was invited to sing the soubrette role in his new operetta. In 1936, she was crowned Miss Hungary.
In 1944, she and a woman named Victoria Wolf wrote a novel that was bought by an American magazine. While fictional, it was partially derived from Zsa Zsa’s own life experiences. In 1949, she declined an offer to play the role of Lady Chatterley in a film version of the book Lady Chatterley’s Lover due to its controversial theme.
Author Gerold Frank, who helped Gabor write her autobiography in 1960, describes his impressions of her while the book was being written:
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 often squired Zsa Zsa’s younger sister Eva socially, described the Gabors in their heyday as glamor personified: “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. Her husbands, in chronological order, were:
Burhan Asaf Belge (1937–1941; divorced)
Conrad Hilton (April 10, 1942 – 1947; divorced)
George Sanders (April 2, 1949 – April 2, 1954; divorced)
Herbert Hutner (November 5, 1962 – March 3, 1966; divorced)
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, 1983 – April 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. 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, a daughter named 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 on January 5, 2015, at the age of 67 from a massive stroke.
Gabor’s husband never told her about her daughter’s death, fearing that this information could have caused Gabor’s own death.
On 11 April 2016, Gabor expressed her wishes to move back to Hungary during 2017 to live out the rest of her life there. Her husband stated that he was determined to make her wish come true and that he intended to arrange for “a big party in the summer” to celebrate the actress’ 100th birthday, after which she would return to Budapest.
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, it was announced that 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 also acquitted her on charges of disobeying officer Kramer when she drove away from a routine traffic stop.
On October 25, 1989, it was announced that 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.
Gabor also had a long-running feud with German-born actress Elke Sommer that began in 1984 when both appeared on Circus of the Stars and escalated into a multi-million dollar libel suit by 1993.
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. Marcus Prinz von Anhalt, a German nightclub owner and adopted son of Gabor’s husband, reportedly provided significant financial assistance to the couple.
Official records of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York reportedly do not list Gabor as a victim.
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.
In August 2010, Gabor was admitted to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in serious condition and received last rites from a Catholic priest.
In 2011, her right leg was amputated above the knee to save her life from an infection. She was hospitalized again in 2011 for numerous emergencies.
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.
Gabor died of a heart attack at her home in Bel-Air, Los Angeles, on December 18, 2016, aged 99. She had been on life support for the previous five years.