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|Also Known As:||Sri Gbor,Sri Prinzessin Von Anhalt||Died:|
|Born:||February 6, 1917||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Profession:||Cast ... actress socialite|
Long before Anna Nicole Smith or Kim Kardashian, the life and career of Zsa Zsa Gabor personified that of a celebrity whose ascent to fame was due more to grabbing headlines than for any particular talent. Sister to "Green Acres" television star Eva Gabor, the future diva did pursue her own acting career and racked up a fairly impressive list of film and television credits, but she shone brightest on talk shows or within tabloid gossip pages where she delivered juicy stories about her many marriages and romantic encounters in her heavily accented and much imitated purr. She was still making news in her seventh and eighth decades - most notably for spending three days in jail after slapping a Beverly Hills traffic cop in 1989 - when she suddenly disappeared off the radar. Except for the occasional tabloid photo of a wheelchair-bound Gabor, her husband, "Prince" Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, spoke publicly on her behalf, while he made tabloid headlines of his own. Despite living a rather unorthodox life and sustaining a level of fame many felt was unjustified, Gabor sparkled brightly for over 60 years as a symbol of continental glamour and mystery.
Born Sari Gabor in Budapest, Hungary, Gabor was one of three daughters born to Jolie and Vilmos Gabor. Conflicting dates in each of the existing biographies for Zsa Zsa and sisters Eva and Magda Gabor made it difficult to determine which sister was actually the eldest, but most sources cited Zsa Zsa's birthday as Feb. 6, 1917. Much to the disapproval of her stern ex-soldier husband, Jolie Gabor was a socially ambitious woman who propelled her daughters into the limelight with a single-minded determination. Eva was the first to immigrate to the United States in pursuit of an acting career, and Zsa Zsa - so named due to her inability to pronounce her own name as a young child - followed suit in the late 1940s after garnering some degree of scandal for landing the title of Miss Hungary of 1936 while underage. At 20, she embarked on her first of nine marriages; the groom was Burhan Asaf Belge, an important figure in the development of 20th-century Turkey. The union ended in 1941. In her 1991 autobiography, One Lifetime Is Not Enough, Gabor stated that she was 15 at the time of the marriage, and they divorced without consummating their nuptials. Only year later, she was wed to hotelier Conrad Hilton, who would later marry Elizabeth Taylor. In 1947, their tumultuous marriage resulted in a daughter, Francesca, who was born at the time of their divorce and was the only offspring born to any of the Gabor sisters. In her autobiography, Gabor declared that Francesca was born after Hilton had raped her.
Gabor's acting career began modestly with a supporting role in the 1952 musical "Lovely to Look At" with Kathryn Grayson and Red Skelton. A statuesque blonde overflowing with Continental exoticism, she was a natural go-to for cinematic eye candy, but rarely landed a substantial role, save for that of Jane Avril, the French can-can dancer and muse for painter Toulouse-Lautrec in John Huston's "Moulin Rouge" (1952). After that, she subsisted on a steady diet of supporting and bit parts in Hollywood features, most notably as the strip club owner in Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil" (1958). That her biggest role during this period came in the camp sci-fi movie "Queen of Outer Space" (1958), as a scientist on a planet populated by women, served as an accurate indication of how she was perceived within the industry and with audiences. Not helping in her struggle to land better roles and to be taken more seriously as an actress, she won a 1957 Golden Globe for Most Glamorous Actress.
Despite her career struggles, Gabor remained in the spotlight, thanks to a string of high-profile marriages and affairs. Her third husband was character actor George Sanders (1949-1954). During their tempestuous union, she was also frequently spotted with diplomat and notorious playboy Porfirio Rubirosa. Following their divorce, Sanders later married Gabor's sister, Magda, for approximately six weeks. Husband number four was Herbert Hunter, whose tenure lasted from 1962 to 1964. In her autobiography, Gabor claimed that the divorce was based on ground of "mental kindness." Joseph Cosden, Jr. - a.k.a. husband number five - lasted from 1966-67. During this year-long period, Gabor also netted attention for frequent spats with sister Eva, who had developed into a respectable comedienne thanks to "Green Acres" (CBS, 1965-1971), and for having a brief fling with Frank Sinatra, whom Gabor also later accused of raping her.
Gabor's film career continued sporadically during the 1960s, though the parts were getting campier with each passing year; there was a turn in "Picture Mommy Dead" (1966), a schlocky psycho-horror by Bert I. Gordon, and two guest shots on the "Batman" series (ABC, 1966-68) as Minerva, a villainess who stole people's minds with the help of her mineral spa. There were also countless appearances on talk shows, where she displayed a quick and self-effacing wit, as well as a knack for catty comments - made all the more delicious with her thick Hungarian accent.
Giving Liz Taylor a run for her money in the marital department, Gabor was wed twice in the 1970s; her sixth husband was engineer Jack Ryan (1975-76), who was credited with developing the Barbie Doll for Mattel, while her seventh betrothed, Michael O'Hara (1977-1982), was her lawyer in her divorce from Ryan. There were occasional movie and television roles during this period, though by now, she was essentially playing thin variations on her own persona, such as in "Female Star" in "Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood" (1976). She also penned an advice book, How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, and How to Get Rid of a Man, in 1970, and gave a rare stage performance in a production of "Arsenic and Old Lace" in 1975.
Gabor kept herself occupied with the business of being Zsa Zsa for much of the 1980s, which included guest shots on "The Facts of Life" (NBC, 1979-1988) and "As the World Turns" (CBS, 1956-2010). She even found time to wed an eighth husband, lawyer Felipe de Alba, who allegedly stayed married to Gabor for all of one day in 1982. But her career received its biggest boost in 1989 when she was pulled over by Beverly Hills Police Officer Paul Kramer for a traffic violation. The actress slapped Kramer after he alleged spoke rudely to her, leading to her prompt arrest. Her lack of a driver's license and a reported open bottle of vodka in the vehicle did not help matters. Her testimony during the hearings was particularly inspired as Gabor defended her actions against Officer Kramer, but to no avail. She was sentenced to three days in an El Segundo jail and ordered to pay $13,000 in court costs. Gabor's comments after her incarceration amused pundits - she claimed that she was denied a jury of her peers due to the fact that there were no producers or press agents in the box - and she was tapped to parody the incident in a string of broad comedy features, including "The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear" (1991) and "A Very Brady Sequel" (1993).
In 1986, Gabor married her ninth husband, a German socialite and aristocrat of some questionable origin named Frederic Prinz von Anhalt. Their union was the longest of Gabor's marriages, and also her strangest. In 2007, Prinz von Anhalt declared that he had carried on a decade-long affair with Anna Nicole Smith and was the biological father of her daughter, Dannielynn. Pressure from media sources (most notably Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly) cast doubts on the assertion, as did a statement from Gabor that Prinz von Anhalt was a "chronic fabricator." That same year, he claimed that he was held up at gunpoint by three women, who stripped him of his clothes and valuables and left him handcuffed and naked in his car. Again, authorities found it difficult to prove the allegation.
Gabor continued making the talk show rounds until the mid-1990s, where she demonstrated that her skill with a quip remained undiminished. But her public appearances and performances ceased after a traumatic car accident in late 2002. Initial reports indicated that she was left in a coma, though further investigation concluded that she had left the scene fully conscious. Gabor recovered in 2003, but required further physical therapy, which led to a successful lawsuit against the hospital for $2 million. In 2005, Gabor filed a lawsuit against her daughter, Francesca, for larceny and fraud, while also suffering from a massive stroke, which required several surgeries over the next few years and left "Prince" von Anhalt to speak publicly on her behalf. A few years later, 90-year-old Gabor had another surgery, this time to treat a leg infection she had contracted due to being confined to a wheelchair since to the accident.
By this time, Gabor only made news for her many medical issues and seemingly incredible ability to cheat death. In July 2010, Gabor fell out of bed while watching "Jeopardy!" and was hospitalized for several broken bones. Just a couple of days later, she had successful hip replacement surgery to repair the damage, only to suffer a further setback when it was announced she was in critical condition due to a concussion suffered in the fall. Though not technically considered to be in a coma, it was reported by her husband that she was unresponsive to human contact. Following a blood transfusion, intravenous food and a switch in painkillers, Gabor took a turn for the better and began to speak a few words. Finally, Gabor returned to her Beverly Hills home after three weeks in the hospital, but was rushed back just days later for the emergency removal of a blood clot. On Sunday, August 15, it was reported that she had called a priest to her bedside to read her last rites and left the hospital in order to spend her final days at home. Again, she cheated death. Unfortunately, Gabor took a turn for the worst after her right leg became infected with gangrene and was mostly amputated in January 2011. Only two weeks after the amputation, she was reported to have suffered a possible stroke and was said to be "quite ill," according to von Anhalt. After being rushed to the hospital again in March, following the death of her friend Elizabeth Taylor, Gabor made another trip on May 17 for emergency stomach surgery. However, this time, she reportedly slipped into a coma and became unresponsive to doctors.
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