In Memoriam: Zsa Zsa Gabor, Our "Most Glamorous", 1917-2016

by Yoram Kahana December 21, 2016
Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor in 1950

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Zsa Zsa Gabor, much married actress and society icon, died less than two months shy of her 100th birthday. She won a Special Golden Globe which at the time, 1958, was awarded to "the most glamorous actress", a long-discontinued vestige from Hollywood’s classic era.

While known mostly for her glamour, marriages, quips and self-promotion (that very current talent of which she was an early pioneer), Gabor was also an accomplished actress in the 1950s. Her best known role was in John Huston's Moulin Rouge ( 1952) opposite Golden Globe winner José Ferrer as painter Henri de Toulouse Lautrec. Her other prestige roles were in Lilli (1953) and in Orson Welles's noir Touch of Evil (1958), in which she played a night club owner. That same year she also appeared  as an alien in Queen of Outer Space, a campy flick about hunky American astronauts landing on a planet of scantily dressed beauties- a more representative sample of the 60-odd movies in which she would appear in during her long career.

Zsa Zsa, the middle of three sisters, was born Sari Gabor in Budapest to a Jewish family, on February 6, as she always gave her birth date (" A woman who tells her age tells everything, and I won't tell it"). She started her long career at age 19, winning the Miss Hungary title in 1936. She kept going for six more decades, outliving her sisters Magda and Eva (of TV's Green Acres).

Zsa Zsa's other career was marriages. She wed at least nine times, wrote books about the subject, (“How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man” (1970) was one title ),  cracked wise and self parodied  her romances since coming to Hollywood to join her sisters who had left Hungary before her. “A girl must marry for love, and keep on marrying until she finds it” she quipped.  On a more serious note she wrote in her autobiography: "I love being married, I love the companionship, cooking for a man..spending all my time with a man. Of course I love being in love- but it is marriage that fulfills me".

First betrothed in Hungary to a Turkish diplomat, she divorced him when she left for Hollywood in 1941. There she married the much older hotelier Conrad Hilton, with whom she had her only child, photographer and comedienne Francesca Hilton. Her next husband was British actor George Sanders, Golden Globe nominee for All About Eve. Then came, for a few years each, an investor-industrialist , an  oil magnate , an inventor and toy designer co-creator of the Barbie doll , her divorce  lawyer, a Mexican actor (that marriage lasted two days) and finally a German pseudo prince, Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt, whom she wed in 1986. They remained married for 30 years, until her death. And marriage supplied seemingly endless material for her celebrated maxims and bon mots on the subject as she herself characterized her quest with abundant self-irony: “I want a man who's kind and understanding. Is that too much to ask of a millionaire? Zsa Zsa Gabor, 1917-2016.  Goodbye,  Dahlink.