Zsa Zsa, US star fa­mous for be­ing fa­mous, dead at 99

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE - — AP

You didn’t have to know ex­actly who she was to ap­pre­ci­ate Zsa Zsa Ga­bor. She be­longed to a rare, hard-to-cat­a­log 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 pop­cul­ture 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.

In this file photo, ac­tress Zsa Zsa Ga­bor and Her­bert Hut­ner ar­rive for the New York premier of the film ‘The Ugly Amer­i­can.’

— AP Pho­tos

In this file photo, Zsa Zsa Ga­bor, she ap­pears in the Paquin’s se­quence in the role of Jane Avril in di­rec­tor John Hus­ton’s 1952 Tech­ni­color pro­duc­tion ‘ Moulin Rouge’

In this file photo, Zsa Zsa Ga­bor ar­rives at Lon­don Air­port from Paris, in a Crim­son dress and a straw hat.

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