She was a Hungarian actress and socialite who lived a remarkably glamorous and colorful life. In addition to nine separate marriages and the accompanying tabloid headlines, she appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows between the early 1950s and late 1990s. And she never made the slightest attempt to modify or get rid of her accent.
Zsa Zsa Gabor was born nearly a century ago, although her true age, like much of her biography, will likely remain a mystery.
As reported by TMZ, Gabor died Sunday in Bel Air, Calif., of heart failure, after five years on life support. While many media outlets have listed Gabor’s age as 99 upon her passing, some, like The New York Times, have left room for ambiguity regarding her age. In its reporting of the actress and socialite’s death, the publication listed her age as “probably” 99 years old.
Gabor was born Sári Gábor, allegedly on February 6, 1917, during World War I in what was then known as Austria-Hungary. She began her acting career in Vienna in the 1930s and was crowned Miss Vienna in 1936. Arriving in the U.S. five years later, Gabor took on frequent movie roles throughout the 1940s and 1950s, in such films as the original Moulin Rouge and Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil in 1958.
But she was perhaps even better known for both her outsized public persona, her frequent witty quotes and her long series of marriages, to the likes of hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, actor George Sanders, and seven other men. She and her sister Eva, also an actress, would also spar in the press over which was the older sister.
In her later years, Gabor frequently made self-parodying cameos as herself in 1980s and ‘90s movies; after Gabor was arrested in 1989 for slapping a police officer, she made fun of the incident in the opening credits of The Naked Gun 2 1/2. The incident was later subject of a documentary, The People vs Zsa Zsa Gabor. She was also a guest star on The Facts of Life, The Love Boat, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Her final on-screen role was in 1996’s A Very Brady Sequel where, naturally, she appeared as herself. Gabor, who was in failing health for a long period, often made news in recent years for family feuds and financial calamities; she was reported to have been swindled by Bernie Madoff.
R.I.P. Zsa Zsa Gabor: February 6, 1917 – December 18, 2016