Farewell to Zsa Zsa

She was a leg­end when Hol­ly­wood still had movie stars

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

Some celebri­ties are fa­mous just for be­ing fa­mous. You can find them all over the In­ter­net. Other celebri­ties are fa­mous for be­ing in­fa­mous. There are even a rare few, like Zsa Zsa, who died this week age 99, who are fa­mous just for be­ing who they are.

Zsa Zsa was the mid­dle child of the glam­orous Ga­bor sis­ters, the last of the three. She first rec­og­nized op­por­tu­nity as the 15-year-old Miss Hun­gary, came to Amer­ica in 1942, di­vorced her first hus­band, and soon mar­ried the sec­ond of nine hus­bands, the ho­tel en­tre­pre­neur Con­rad Hil­ton. Like all but the ninth mar­riage, it didn’t last.

“Life with Zsa Zsa was a lit­tle like hold­ing a Ro­man can­dle,” the hote­lier said long af­ter­ward. “Beau­ti­ful, ex­cit­ing, but you were never quite sure when it would go off. And it’s hard to live the Fourth of July ev­ery day.”

Zsa Zsa said he was the only hus­band she mar­ried for his money, and set­tled a di­vorce for $35,000 and $2,500 a month un­til she mar­ried again. It was a bar­gain be­cause she didn’t say un­mar­ried for long. “I’m an ex­cel­lent house­keeper,” she said. “Ev­ery time I get a di­vorce, I keep the house.”

Zsa Zsa used her con­sid­er­able beauty and her ti­tle — as Miss Hun­gary — to get to Hol­ly­wood where she ap­peared in 25 movies, none mem­o­rable. But her great­est role, in which she was a spec­tac­u­lar suc­cess, was as Zsa Zsa. She had a gift for the quip, usu­ally about sex, al­ways with wit and never with cheap vul­gar­ity. She played the in­no­cent cour­te­san, and played it well. “I ac­tu­ally know noth­ing about sex,” she said. “I was al­ways mar­ried.” She was the femme fa­tale with in­sight. “A man in love is in­com­plete un­til he has mar­ried, and then he is fin­ished.”

Zsa Zsa — she was the rare celebrity known by just a given name — was born in Bu­dapest to a dash­ing Hun­gar­ian cav­alry of­fi­cer and a mother who pushed Zsa Zsa and her two sis­ters, Magda and Eva, to show busi­ness. All Hun­gar­ian cal­vary of­fi­cers are dash­ing, of course, but Zsa Zsa once said, in the frac­tured English that was part of her charm, that “Hun­gar­ian is not a na­tion­al­ity, ‘dahlink,’ but a dis­ease.”

She was never with­out the play­ful re­mark. When she was ar­rested in Bev­erly Hills for driv­ing her Rolls-Royce con­vert­ible with an ex­pired tag, she slapped the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer. She in­sisted she never ac­tu­ally hit him, but served three days in jail. She was ready for a long trial. “I have enough out­fits to last a year.” But she was ter­ri­fied of jail. “They have ways of mak­ing you a les­bian whether you want to be or not.”

Her last years were not happy ones. Her health failed, a leg was am­pu­tated, and she was forced to sell the $11-mil­lion Bev­erly Hills man­sion she shared with her ninth hus­band, a Ger­man im­mi­grant who styled him­self Prince Fred­eric von An­halt.

She was the ex­trav­a­gant leg­end when Hol­ly­wood was an ex­trav­a­gant leg­end, and a movie star was ex­pected to ap­pear in her di­a­monds and furs even when shop­ping at Safe­way. “The mod­ern movie stars,” she once said, “don’t look any­thing like them­selves in real life.”

Zsa Zsa was a re­fresh­ing af­front to the hu­mor­less fem­i­nist and po­lit­i­cally cor­rect mod­ern cul­ture. “There’s noth­ing wrong with a woman en­cour­ag­ing a man’s ad­vances,” she said, “as long as they are in cash,” and “I never hated a man enough to give him his di­a­monds back.” She wrote sev­eral au­to­bi­ogra­phies, in­clud­ing a slen­der vol­ume en­ti­tled “How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man and How to Get Rid of a Man.” A girl must marry for love, she said, “and keep on mar­ry­ing un­til she finds it.”

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