Zsa Zsa Gabor, actress and socialite, dead at 99

By Annie Martin
Zsa Zsa Gabor (R), pictured here with ninth husband Prince Frederic von Anhalt in 1990, died on Sunday. File Photo by Vicki L. Miller/UPI
1 of 2 | Zsa Zsa Gabor (R), pictured here with ninth husband Prince Frederic von Anhalt in 1990, died on Sunday. File Photo by Vicki L. Miller/UPI

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Hollywood legend Zsa Zsa Gabor died at age 99 on Sunday.

The actress and socialite's publicist Ed Lozzi confirmed the news to Variety. According to TMZ, Gabor died of a heart attack.


Gabor had been in decline since her hospitalization in February. The actress was rushed to the hospital Feb. 8, two days after her 99th birthday, and diagnosed with a feeding tube-related lung infection.

"She wants to live, she wants to go on. She loves everything," Gabor's husband, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, told Entertainment Tonight at the time. "She never told me, 'Let me go,' or, 'I don't want to live anymore,' things like that."

Gabor was born to Vilmos and Jolie Gabor in Budapest in 1917 and enjoyed a privileged upbringing with her two sisters. She was discovered by famed tenor Richard Tauber in 1934 and made her first stage appearance in his operetta The Singing Dream.


The blonde beauty went on to win Miss Hungary in 1936, but was later disqualified for lying about her age. She married her first husband, Turkish official Burhan Asaf Belge, the next year, and moved to the U.S. after their split in 1941.

The new divorceé quickly wed second husband Conrad Hilton, and welcomed a daughter, Francesca Hilton, with the hotel magnate before their split in 1947. The couple's divorce left the actress free to pursue a film career in Hollywood.

Gabor impressed with her foreign charm and made her major film debut in Lovely to Look At in 1952. She starred as Jane Avril in Moulin Rogue the same year and later appeared in Death of a Scoundrel and Touch of Evil.

The star's sisters, Magda Gabor, who died in 1997, and Eva Gabor, who died in 1995, were also actresses, with Eva best known for Green Acres. The siblings all made headlines for their glamorous lifestyle and many marriages, although Gabor was most often in the spotlight.

"I was the first actress in the family," Eva, who died at age 76 in 1995, complained to the Los Angeles Times in 1990. "And while I was the ugly duckling, they used to say I had personality."


"You know, when people say [I'm nice], I feel torn," she admitted. "Because Zsa Zsa has the best heart in the world. But she is only that way when she is alone ... Anyway, it's awfully boring to be called the 'good' Gabor!"

Gabor acted less and less as she gained equal fame for her personal life and wealth, but often made TV appearances in her later career. She married seven more times after Hilton, including to actor George Sanders and banker Herbert Hutner, and wed von Anhalt in 1986.

"I don't consider any of my marriages mistakes," the actress wrote in her 1970 book, How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man. "They were all good experiences and I learned something important from each."

"Whoever you are, Mrs. Rockefeller or Mrs. Smith, you have only one life to live," she added. "You can never be as unhappy alone than as unhappy as you can be with somebody you don't want to be with."

Gabor's marriage to von Anhalt, 73, was her longest relationship. The actress was left partially paralyzed and wheelchair-bound in a 2002 car crash, an incident that made her dependent on her ninth and last husband.


"When we were married, I was very much in love with her. I still am," von Anhalt said in the October 2007 issue of Vanity Fair. "When she had her accident, I knew she would depend on me. Four and a half years ago, I gave up my life. I live for her, because she needs me."

"I gave up traveling, doing business, going to Europe. I gave up nightlife completely," he elaborated. "She wants me to put her in the wheelchair, get her out of the wheelchair. It's very tough on me, but I have no choice. She's my wife. I have to take care of her."

Some, including Gabor's daughter, Francesca, who died in January 2015, were skeptical of von Anhalt's intentions with Gabor in her decline. The actress hadn't been seen in public for years as she weathered a number of medical issues, including the amputation of her right leg in 2011.

Gabor leaves behind a significant film and television catalogue, in addition to her legacy as one of Hollywood's most sought-after celebrities. The actress was less than impressed with today's celebutantes, however, calling Paris Hilton "rather silly" in the Vanity Fair interview.


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