Jewish-born Hollywood star Zsa Zsa Gabor dies at age 99

Although she eventually became a practicing Roman Catholic, the Hungarian-American actress was born to Jewish parents.

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
December 19, 2016 12:10
2 minute read.
Zsa Zsa Gabor ‏

Zsa Zsa Gabor ‏. (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)

 
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Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, who parlayed beauty, diamond-studded glamour and nine marriages into a long celebrity career, died on Sunday. She was 99.

Edward Lozzi, who was a longtime publicist for Gabor, said the Hungarian-born actress passed away at her Los Angeles home after years of decline and illness. She would have turned 100 in February.

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Although she eventually became a practicing Roman Catholic, Gabor's parents were both from Jewish families. Her mother, Jolie, managed to escape from the Nazi occupation of Hungary during WWII.
Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor dies at age 99

Gabor, by most accounts, had a personality that generally outshone her acting skills. Her bubbly demeanor and looks helped land her a string of wealthy husbands. She had a penchant for calling everyone "dah-ling" in her thick Hungarian accent. Along with her two sisters, Eva and Magda, she became a fixture on Hollywood's social circuit in her prime.

She was once branded "the most expensive courtesan since Madame de Pompadour," but Gabor insisted that only her marriage to husband No. 2, hotel mogul Conrad Hilton, was financially motivated.

In fact, marriage could have been the Gabor family business and Zsa Zsa, the company's CEO. Her nine marriages topped the five by Eva, who starred in the 1960s sitcom "Green Acres," and the six of Magda, whose Hollywood career was mostly based on being the third Gabor sister.

While her acting skills were rarely lauded, Zsa Zsa Gabor carved out a career in her early days in Hollywood. Her finest film roles came with "Moulin Rouge," where she earned good reviews, in 1952 and "Lili" in 1953.

She appeared in more than 30 movies and by the 1970s she began to reject smaller roles, saying: "I may be a character but I do not want to be a character actress."

Gabor eventually ended up in low-budget films with such titles as "Queen of Outer Space" and "Picture Mommy Dead."

Greater success came with nightclub and TV appearances where she disclosed she called everyone "dah-ling" because she could not remember names well, and she relied on self-parodying jokes based on her marriages, haughty demeanor and taste for opulence.

"I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man, I keep his house," she was quoted as saying.

In the final episode of the 1960s television series "Batman," Gabor played the guest villainess, Minerva, who used hair dryers to steal information from men's brains.

Gabor, one of the last stars of Hollywood's golden age, was not seen in public in her final years as she struggled with her health, including broken bones and cuts from a car accident. She also suffered a stroke and a broken hip, enduring complications from hip replacement surgery. She had much of her right leg amputated in 2011 because of an infection.

Gabor's most recent stint at the hospital came just days after her 99th birthday last February for breathing difficulties.

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