Zsa Zsa Gabor: Hail the Queen of Outer Space

Zsa Zsa GaborWith Zsa Zsa Gabor heading home this past Monday to spend her final days in comfort, rather than in a hospital, I think it’s only appropriate that we take a look at the life and times of the Hungarian beauty. Here are some Zsa Zsa Facts & Figures:

Zsa Zsa is the second of the three Gabor sisters: Magda, Sari (Zsa Zsa) and Eva. The sisters were born in Budapest. Zsa Zsa is now 93 years old.

Zsa Zsa attended a Swiss boarding school called Madame Subilia’s.

After finishing school, she was discovered in Vienna in 1936 by “the famous tenor Richard Tauber,” (oh, yes, Richard Tauber!) and invited to sing in a new operetta he was staging.

Zsa Zsa eventually became known more for her many marriages than for her acting abilities. She has been married nine times and has had seven divorces, one annulment and is still married to ninth husband, Frederic Prinz von Anhalt.

Her husbands included:
1. Burhan Asaf Belge – known as one of the young intellectuals during the early periods of Republic of Turkey and became a foreign affairs minister for that country. He was a lot older than Zsa Zsa. While married to him she reportedly had an affair with Kemal Ataturk, president of Turkey.
2. Conrad Hilton – most recently portrayed on Mad Men Season 3; Conrad and Gabor had one child: Constance Francesca Hilton, before divorcing in 1946. Gabor insisted in her 1991 autobiography One Lifetime is Not Enough (now on my must-read list) that she only became pregnant by Hilton after he raped her during their marriage. Which is a nice legacy for Constance. But for years after the divorce they were on good enough terms – in 1955 Conrad offered her a special rate at all Hilton hotels for the rest of her life. What a generous guy!
3. George Sanders – English film and TV actor, was in All About Eve and voiced Shere Khan in The Jungle Book. They divorced in 1954; in 1970 Sanders married Magda Gabor, Zsa Zsa’s older sister, for 6 weeks. Once that broke up, Sanders began drinking heavily and committed suicide in 1972.
4. Herbert Hutner – the U.S. chairman of the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts from 1982 to 1990, made money on the stock market and also seems to have had something to do with producing plays.
5. Joshua S. Cosden, Jr. – not much info on this dude; Zsa Zsa and Joshua met six weeks before they married.
6. Jack Ryan – American designer noted for creating the popular image Barbie; they met because they were neighbors and she called to complain about his fire engine being too loud. Yes, he had his own fire engine and, I guess, a tree house. Their marriage lasted just over one year.
7. Michael O’Hara – Michael was her divorce lawyer when she divorced Jack Ryan.
8. Felipe de Alba – Mexican attorney who, in the 1940s and 1950s, was a popular actor. The de Alba/Gabor union was declared invalid because she hadn’t quite completed her divorce with O’Hara and then they seem to have said, “The hell with it,” or maybe, “just kidding,” and didn’t stay together.
9. Frederic Prinz von Anhalt – married in 1984 and STILL MARRIED. 24 years! Lucky number 9 (of course the Prinz freely admits that they didn’t marry for love but rather friendship). Wikipedia has this to say about the Prinz, ” a German-born American socialite (and a former masseur). At the age of 37 he became the adopted son of Princess Marie-Auguste of Anhalt in a business transaction put together by Hans Hermann Weyer, a former consul of Bolivia and dealer in titles.” This sure raises a lot of questions, doesn’t it? What I also know about the Prinz is that he declared he was running for Governor of California last February and, when Anna Nicole Smith’s daughter’s paternity was in question, he came forward and claimed to be the father.

According to Wiki, the Prinz claims he was good friends with one of Princess Marie-Auguste’s sons, who died in 1975, and that she adopted Prinz out of kindness and grief. Why it would occur to a grieving mother to adopt a 37-year-old man is a deeper question for another time. The British press claims that the Princess did it as a business deal because she was bankrupt. Either way, it’s weird. But it opens up new options for adults who want titles – get some old Princess to adopt you. The Prinz got adopted in 1980; the Princess died in 1983.

But then it gets considerably ickier: “Together with his wife, Zsa Zsa Gabor,  Prinz von Anhalt has adopted several men. Among them are: Marcus Prinz von Anhalt (formerly known as Marcus Eberhardt), who refers to himself as “Prince Germany;” Oliver Prinz von Anhalt (formerly known as Oliver Bendig); Michael Prinz von Anhalt (formerly known as Michael Killer) as well as Markus Maximilian Prinz von Anhalt and Oliver Prinz von Anhalt. Following the adoption, these men are entitled to use the last name of “Prinz von Anhalt”. German newspapers have speculated that Frederic is effectively selling the name, which would be a criminal offence in Germany and render the adoptions, which were made under German law, invalid.”

I’ve never heard of anyone having “adopting adult men” as their main hobby.

But back to Zsa Zsa, right?

In 1974, she bought a Bel Air home from Elvis that had been built by Howard Hughes.

She was the only Gabor sister to have a child, the aforementioned Constance. Mother and daughter have had their woes – in 2005, Zsa Zsa accused her daughter of larceny and fraud but then didn’t go through with the required court appearance and paperwork.

On June 14, 1989, Gabor was accused of slapping the face of a Beverly Hills cop who had stopped her for a traffic violation. She was found guilty and had to do 3 days of hard time plus pay $13,000 in legal fees. Interestingly enough, she also slapped a bellboy in a London hotel in 1968.

Her filmography includes such gems as Moulin Rouge (1952), Queen of Outer Space (1958), Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie (1984) and Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987, admittedly, just a cameo). She also has television credits galore, hitting all the great shows that relied on guest stars: Gilligan’s Island, Love Boat, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, The Facts of Life and As The World Turns. She was also a regular guest on many talk shows because of her flamboyant ways, exaggerated accent and funny one-liners.

If you’re like me, you often get confused and think Zsa Zsa was on the TV show Green Acres. She was not. That was Eva Gabor. Eva had five marriages, no children and died in 1995 at the age of 76. Just for the record, oldest sister Magda was married six times.

If you want to read more about Zsa Zsa, here are the books by or about her:

  • Zsa Zsa Gabor, My Story By Zsa Zsa Gabor with Gerold Frank, The World Publishing Company, 1960.
  • How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, and How to Get Rid of a Man, by Zsa Zsa Gabor, Doubleday, 1970.
  • One Lifetime Is Not Enough, by Zsa Zsa Gabor, assisted by and edited by Wendy Leigh, Delacorte Press, 1991.
  • Gaborabilia, by Anthony Turtu and Donald F Reuter, Three Rivers Press, 2001.

I’m thinking that second one is a MUST read!

As for her current health condition, a website dedicated to the Gabor sisters has this to say, “On July 17, 2010 while watching her favorite gameshow Jeopardy Ms. Gabor  reached over to answer the phone and in doing so suffered a serious fall resulting in breaking her hip and several other bones. She got a new hip on the morning of Monday the 19th but complications arose during the surgery. After a blood transfusion later that week she is reportedly doing much better but still in critical condition. Her husband Prince Frederic Von Anhalt issued a statement to her fans to ask to please keep her in your prayers. She is truly a legend and the past 8 years she has been through hell healthwise what with that horrible accident in November of 2002 which left her partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, a massive stroke in ’05 and now this. We pray that she will have a quick recovery and return home soon.”

On the site, they show a photo of the present-day Gabor in a wheelchair. But I think we’d all prefer to remember her like this:

vintage zsa zsa

Want more photos of the gorgeous Zsa Zsa? Watch the “Zsa Zsa Gabor In Her Heyday” slide show on Life.com

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