Zsa Zsa Gabor: A rare, unforgettable celebrity

She was a symbol, from the 1950s on, of European style and flair, of material and romantic extravagance.

You didn’t have to know exactly who she was to appreciate Zsa Zsa Gabor.

She belonged to a rare, hard-to-catalogue vintage of celebrity, not only the great-aunt of Paris Hilton, but a true ancestor of Hilton’s jet-set flamboyance.

For such a flashy member of the leisure class, she did plenty, appearing in a number of films, including Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil”; logging enough husbands to field a baseball team; and flaunting sex appeal, excess glamour and an exotic accent into her senior years.

But none of this fully accounts for the enduring recognition she enjoyed and cultivated. Maybe she just knew how to work it. Maybe it happened above and beyond her control. It certainly helped that she was in on the joke.

She was a symbol, from the 1950s on, of European style and flair, of material and romantic extravagance. She was rich in more ways than one. She was playful and outspoken. She was blessed with a ritzy, come-hither name: Zsaahhhh Zsaahhhh!

Some of the heavy lifting that helped sustain the Gabor brand was courtesy of Zsa Zsa’s lookalike sister Eva, who shared the Gabor pizazz. Eva’s star turn in the 1960s as a sitcom socialite on “Green Acres” has guaranteed her immortality in the pop-culture pantheon — and, by association, given Zsa Zsa status beyond her own accomplishments.

But Zsa Zsa could be funny, too.

In a TV commercial from 1963, a begowned, bejeweled Gabor extols the virtues of the Studebaker Lark, kittenishly calling this midlevel compact “so nice, so chic.”

The car featured newfangled disc brakes, and in her fractured English, Gabor purrs to the audience, “My friend says I would be in jail from coast to coast if I wouldn’t have them.”

In 1989, she hit the brakes and had a celebrated brush with the law while driving not a Lark, but her own Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible. She slapped the face of a Beverly Hills, California, police officer who had the effrontery to stop her for a traffic violation. The officer was rude, she testified at the trial where she was subsequently found guilty of assault.

Her arrest became just another sparkling career move. She spoofed the incident in “Naked Gun 2 1-2” and various other cameo appearances.

Dahling, the Zsa Zsa legend cannot die, even in a culture with short memories where attention-seekers jostle for camera time. She lives on, unchallenged, in the cultural ether. Meanwhile, it’s not hard to imagine her in heaven right now, tricked out with wings and a Blackglama mink, advising St. Peter that the Pearly Gates clash with her diamonds.

Frazier Moore, The Associated Press

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

UPDATE: Pedestrian dies after being hit by bus in uptown White Rock

Collision occurred July 3 at North Bluff Road and Johnston Road

Intent of killing at centre of Surrey man’s West Kelowna murder trial

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Allison Beames is anticipated to return with her decision in August

PHOTOS: South Surrey tractor project evokes ‘$1-million smile,’ helps connect neighbours

Retired Surrey firefighter Ron Henze began project for friend’s dad to fill time during pandemic

Surrey man facing charges related to child pornography

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Greater Vancouver home sales start to tick up, with prices holding steady

Residential sales last month reached 2,443, a 64.5 per cent jump from May

Langley Lodge’s deadly outbreak declared over

Fraser Health and long-term care home administrator confirm Friday declaration

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

Search continues for person seen floating in Coquihalla River in Hope

Rescuers halted the search Thursday night as darkness fell

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

Most Read