Zsa Zsa Gabor
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don't look down
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Béal Feirste
Zsa Zsa's is currently in hospital, and this article looks back at her life and loves (dailymail.co.uk):
My darlink Zsa Zsa had nine husbands, and slept with Nixon. But her real love? Her shih tzus
She's fighting for her life at the Ronald Reagan hospital in Los Angeles, where doctors are battling to replace her hip after a nasty fall out of bed, and mend countless other broken bones in her once voluptuous body.
But Zsa Zsa Gabor has always been an extraordinary survivor. I should know, because as her friend for nearly 35 years, and the co-writer of her 1992 autobiography One Lifetime Is Not Enough, I know the truth about the last of the legendary Gabors.
First of all, Zsa Zsa is 94, not 93, as she claims. Second, while she claims to come from an illustrious, well-heeled family, supposedly pillars of pre-war Hungarian society, I have it on good authority that her mother - the formidable Jolie - once ran one of Budapest's most successful brothels.
Zsa Zsa, of course, would never admit any such thing. Mistress of creating her own mythology, she has always been a storyteller to the ends of her well-manicured fingertips ('always wear pale polish if you haff small fingers, darlink, and dark if you have long ones . . .'), the crafter and keeper of her own glittering legend.
Her face, once moon-shaped and pudgy, was re-sculpted myriad times by some of Hollywood's earliest plastic surgeons, as was her nose. Right into her 70s she underwent many chemical peels in an effort to look as youthful as possible.
Yet Zsa Zsa's face and her figure (which was bosomy and curvy in the extreme) was not her fortune. It was her sunny charm, her bubbly personality and her rapier wit, combined with her naked flirtatiousness, that won her a legion of admirers.
President Richard Nixon, for example, had an affair with her, which consisted in part of him quizzing Zsa Zsa on Turkish politics (her first husband was in the Turkish diplomatic corps) and part Zsa Zsa praising him for his sexual prowess and vast endowment.
All men have to be told they are the biggest and the best, darlink, even if they are not,' she told me. When I raised an eyebrow, she tossed her head and said, 'And vhy not, darlink, it doesn't cost anything.'
Zsa Zsa was born Sari Gabor, and went on to win the Miss Hungary contest at the age of 15 - though she was subsequently disqualified for being under age. Her life changed irrevocably, though, when she fled World War II in 1941 and joined her sister, Eva, in America.
In the years that followed, she made her name as an actress - and cut a swathe through no fewer than nine husbands, the last of which was the exotically named Prince Frederic von Anhalt, who is 30 years her junior and has been married to her since 1986.
Queenly in the extreme - not just when she imperiously slapped a Los Angeles cop for being impertinent enough to stop her for speeding - perhaps it was inevitable that she would end up a Princess. Zsa Zsa loved her title, adored her tiara, yet was just as happy throwing off her diamonds, kicking off her shoes, and being one of the girls - or boys.
British actor George Sanders - her third husband and the man whom she told me was the 'great love of my life, even though he was cold and cruel to me' - once called her 'the best pal any man could have', a compliment she cherished above all others.
Perhaps for all her husbands, her shih tzu dogs - Zoltan Gabor being the favourite - have been the passion of her life. She loved giving parties for them, during which she made them hot dogs on her beloved hot dog machine.
She was also domesticated in the strangest ways, cooking a goulash recipe that included ginger snaps and eating a piece of green pepper every day because she thought it was good for her skin.
Zsa Zsa surrounded herself with wealthy men, but she also thought nothing of donning a few diamonds and making a trip to her local fashion store to bargain with the salesgirl for a dress that took her fancy. More often than not, she'd wear that dress once or twice, hiding the tag, then return it a few days later, insisting the store accept it, makeup marks on the collar and all.
At one store, Saks Fifth Avenue in Palm Beach, she took advice on her beauty regime for many years from Elizabeth, the Chanel representative. When Elizabeth was revealed to be a transsexual (or a transvestite, Zsa Zsa was never sure which), instead of expiring with shock, Zsa Zsa roared with laughter and stayed friends with her.
Her ability to laugh at herself was always supreme. One great love, Dominican playboy, Porfirio Rubirosa - one of the few men she didn't marry - died in 1965 after a crash in which he was crushed to death by his own Ferrari.
Many years later, friends relayed Rubirosa's last words to her: 'Zsa Zsa, I love only Zsa Zsa.' She snorted and said: 'What rubbish! He had a Ferrari on his chest - the last thing he would ever be thinking about was Zsa Zsa!'
Cynical realist she may have been, but she was also a romantic fantasist with an imagination that rivalled that of any Jackie Collins or Danielle Steele. She spun yarn after yarn, all in shimmering Mills and Boon style. She recalled how, in her youth, she had seduced a Roman Catholic priest during a midnight trip on an Italian train.
During her teens, she said, Ataturk - the founder of modern Turkey - had presented her with a ruby-encrusted 'Hand of Fatima' as a symbol of their romantic destiny. True or not? I was never sure. Yet many of Zsa Zsa's most outlandish stories turned out to be fact.
When I interviewed her for the autobiography we wrote together, she suddenly announced that Frank Sinatra had raped her. Not that he had ravaged her violently (Zsa Zsa may well have relished that), but that he had simply refused to go home unless she had sex with him.
I listened to her story about Sinatra with some scepticism, but when the book was finally published, Sinatra came out and admitted that he had had sex with Zsa Zsa, but denied the rape and dubbed her 'an iceberg'.
From everything I observed from Zsa Zsa, from the testimonies of her litany of lovers and husbands, Sinatra was not only being ungentlemanly, but also dishonest.
Right through her 70s and early 80s, Zsa Zsa enjoyed a vigorous sex life with her ninth husband Frederic, and made sure everyone, in particular her maids, knew about it.
She also spoke glowingly to me of past lovers such as Richard Burton ('I adored his voice, so deep and sexy'), but less enthusiastically of Sean Connery ('so disappointing, sveetheart. Nothing, really').
George Sanders once dubbed her 'the last of the great courtesans', but despite her reputation, Zsa Zsa was never a gold-digger.
Hotel millionaire Conrad Hilton, her second husband, didn't give her a vast divorce settlement, nor did any of her other husbands. As for Frederic von Anhalt - it was Zsa Zsa, not he, who had the money.
She and her two sisters, Eva and Magda inherited their mother Jolie's money, and when Eva and Magda (who were both childless) died, Zsa Zsa inherited everything.
After knowing her for so many years, I have come to appreciate her countless kindnesses. There was the time she sent my father a signed photograph when he - just like her today - had broken his hip, and the occasion she presented me with one of her most beautiful diaphanous nightgowns because it matched my hair. She also cared for children with Down's syndrome at a home where she volunteered.
And even if she was a man's woman, she has always liked other women as long as they are flamboyant, daring and sexy, just like her. But woe-betide any woman Zsa Zsa took a dislike to. Ivana Trump was a particular bete noir (Zsa Zsa much preferred Donald), and she was scathing in her dislike of Joan Collins, lambasting her as 'stupid'.
Despite the sadness of her latest setback, broken and old as she may be, I will never forget the Zsa Zsa who has always meant so much to me. She was the woman every man wanted to have and every woman wanted to be.
You're perfect, yes, it's true. But without me, you're only you.
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