Hollywood legend Zsa Zsa Gabor dies at 99

The actress Zsa Zsa Gabor has died after suffering a heart attack, aged 99, her husband has confirmed.

On the point of tears, Frederic von Anhalt told the AFP news agency his wife had passed away at home, surrounded by her friends and family.

“Everybody was there. She didn’t die alone,” he said.

Born in Hungary, she emigrated to the United States during World War Two and made her Hollywood debut in 1952. She was married nine times.

She appeared in more than 70 films, but was more famous for her celebrity lifestyle.

She first married at the age of 20 and for the last (and longest) time when she was nearly 70 to the man who outlived her.

By her own reckoning she was only married eight-and-a-half times – she said she didn’t really count a Spanish duke in 1982.

Born Sari Gabor in Budapest on 6 February 1917, the future starlet was immediately nicknamed Zsa Zsa by her family.

Though she had initially wanted to be a vet, her mother had other ideas – and her beauty soon saw show business beckon.

Portrait of Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor wearing a stole and carrying a bouquet of flowers, 1950s.

Gabor was crowned Miss Hungary in 1936, but was later disqualified for lying about her age to enter the pageant.

Her credits include a long list of roles in such hit films as Moulin Rouge (1952), Lili (1953) and Queen of Outer Space (1958). More recently, she featured in the Nightmare on Elm Street series and in the Naked Gun spoofs.

In her heyday, Gabor embodied Hollywood’s platinum blonde ideal and was famous for wearing lame gowns.

Her only child was Constance Francesca Hilton, her daughter with hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, who was born in 1947.

Gabor was arguably among the first women to be “famous for being famous” – a quality often attributed to her famous great-granddaughter by marriage, Paris Hilton.

She was affectionately mocked for her strong Hungarian accent, in which she called everybody “darling” – or “dahlink” as she pronounced it.

“I call everyone ‘dahlink’ because I can’t remember their names,” the socialite once said.

Her mother had reportedly told her: “You don’t have to marry every man you sleep with.”

Gabor said she did it because she “never stopped being a Catholic at heart”.

In her 1993 autobiography “One Lifetime is Not Enough”, she claimed to have lost her virginity to Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, when she was 15.

The tell-all account also referred to romances with screen legends Sean Connery and Frank Sinatra, quite apart from her roster of husbands. She claimed to have turned down John F. Kennedy and Elvis Presley.

Though she spent her life delivering others’ lines, Gabor could turn a memorable phrase herself.

Pondering her good relations with her many ex-husbands, she said: “I never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back.”

She also commented: “I am a marvellous housekeeper: Every time I leave a man I keep his house.”

This file photo taken on July 12, 1989 shows US actress Zsa Zsa Gabor exiting the Beverly Hills Municipal Court on July 12, 1989 where she appeared in order to answer charges of battery against a police officer.

Gabor was plagued by ill-health in her later years, and was left wheelchair-bound after a 2002 car accident in Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.

She survived strokes in 2005 and 2007, and was left heavily dependent on her husband.

In 2011, she suffered an infection that saw her right leg amputated above the knee to save her life.

Figures from the entertainment world paid tribute to Gabor as news of her death emerged.

US chat show host Larry King said: “There will only be one Zsa Zsa Gabor. And I liked her a lot. Rest In Peace, my dear.”

Actress Barbara Eden, who starred in I Dream of Jeannie, tweeted: “Rest in peace Zsa Zsa Gabor. She and her sisters were lovely ladies who were always fun and delightful to be around.”

Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie called the socialite “fabulous” and “unmistakable”.

A picture of a tweet by actress Gwendoline Christie

British director Michael Winner, who worked with Gabor on the 1976 film Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood, said her greatest role was playing herself.

Speaking before his death in 2013, he remarked: “She played Zsa Zsa Gabor the actress in real life.

“I thought she had great wit and charm. She was a perfectly reasonable actress. Not a great actress – but she was perfect in those early comedies.

“She played a glamorous Hungarian. She wouldn’t have been able to play Juliet, or be in Hamlet, but was perfect for those films.

“Her private life is the equal to those characters in soap operas today – but they do not hold a candle to her. Compared to Zsa Zsa Gabor they are just empty shells.”

 

Source: BBC