Zsa Zsa Gabor: Hollywood legend dies at 99
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 in 1917, the future starlet was immediately nicknamed Zsa Zsa by her family.
Image copyright FPG/Getty Images
A way with words
- “Husbands are like fires. They go out when unattended.”
- “I never hated a man enough to give him his diamonds back.”
- “I am a marvellous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house.”
- “To be loved is a strength. To love is a weakness.”
Read more of Zsa Zsa Gabor – in her own words
Her credits included 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 her glamorous gowns and love of diamonds.
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 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.
Zsa Zsa Gabor’s nine husbands
- Burhan Belge: Turkish diplomat, married 1937 to 1941
- Conrad Hilton: Hotel magnate, married 1942 to 1947
- George Sanders: Actor, married 1949 to 1954. He later married her sister
- Herbert Hutner: Investment banker, married 1962 to 1966
- Joshua Cosden: Oil tycoon, married 1966 to 1967
- Jack Ryan: Barbie doll designer, married 1975 to 1976
- Michael O’Hara: Her divorce lawyer, married 1976 to 1983
- Count Felipe de Alba of Mexico: Lawyer and actor, married in 1983 but annulled shortly afterwards because her last divorce was not finalised
- Frederic Prinz von Anhalt: Entrepreneur and socialite, married 1986 until her death
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.
Gabor was plagued by ill-health in her later years, and used a wheelchair 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”.
Hollywood reporter Jeanne Wolf, who had interviewed Gabor many times, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “She was full of pep, full of vinegar, full of glamour and full of elegance, very opinionated and very bossy.
“But you had to love her. She was irresistible; vital and longing for life and believing in glamour and demanding diamonds and respect and attention.”
Image copyright Twitter / Gwendoline Christie