Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Zsa Zsa Gabor: Legendary Hollywood actress dies aged 99

Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, famed for her social life and her one-liners as much as for her acting career, has died at the age of 99. After years of ill health, she finally succumbed to a heart attack, 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 Sári Gábor in Hungary on 6 February 1917, she had a career on the stage and was crowned Miss Hungary by the time she was 19. She emigrated to Hollywood to pursue stardom at 21, and made her film debut in 1952, in Mervyn Leroy's romantic musical comedy Lovely To Look At. Not for the last time, she played an exotic beauty named 'Zsa Zsa'.

She went on to appear in John Huston's Moulin Rouge (1952) and Orson Welles' Touch Of Evil (1958), but while Huston insisted she was a "creditable" actress, arguably her biggest starring role was in the camp, cult science fiction B-movie Queen Of Outer Space (1958), playing a sexpot despot from the planet Venus.

Her personal life soon eclipsed her screen work. She was married nine times, including to the famous hotelier Conrad Hilton in 1942, and to her Death Of A Scoundrel (1956) co-star George Sanders in 1949. Glamorous, feisty and funny on the celebrity circuit, she said her morals wouldn't allow her to sleep with a man unless they were married... and that when she had had enough of them she got rid of them again, generally keeping the diamonds and the houses. As she once famously declared, "I am a marvellous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house."

Her final marriage was to Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt in 1986, making her officially Princess von Anhalt, Duchess of Saxony.

In later life she still made sporadic screen appearances, often playing on her own image, as in The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell Of Fear (1991) in which she is seen in the opening credits slapping a policeman – a reference to a notorious real life incident for which she spent three days in jail. Her final sighting on the big screen was in A Very Brady Sequel (1996), and, barring chat show appearances and a This Is Your Life, her final role on television was in Tatooed Teenage Alien Fighters From Beverly Hills (1995).

Shimmering her way through Hollywood society, Gabor maintained the air of a Hungarian aristocrat. She spoke seven languages yet, despite living in California for half a century, never lost her distinctive accent.

"I call everyone 'dahlink' because I can't remember their names."

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."

Game Of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie called the socialite "fabulous" and "unmistakable".

Our thoughts are with her friends and family.

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