Her name is synonymous with glamor – no not her birth name Sári Gabor – but Zsa Zsa, a simple Hungarian girl who became Hollywood royalty. It is fair to say that before there was Paris Hilton, before Angelina Jolie, and other starlets who became obsessions of the American public and media, there was Zsa Zsa. Born in 1917 in Budapest, which was still part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, it wasn’t until just before World War II that Gabor was able to flee Europe (she would have to, her mother was Jewish).
Before retiring due to health reasons, Zsa Zsa spent over 70 years in the entertainment industry in the USA. Her career stretches far back as the Milton Berle Show, which many consider the first real successful TV comedy show, all the way up to spots on the David Letterman Show. In between there are almost a hundred TV and film credits, from roles on much-loved shows as Bonanza to Mr. Ed, from The Love Boat to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, all the while getting the American ear accustomed to her sultry Hungarian accent.
Gabor’s life was as dramatic as the roles she played. All in all, she was married nine times. When a reporter asked hew who many husbands she had, she famously said, “You mean other than mine?” She was first proposed to at the tender age of 15, and indeed took the Turkish diplomat as her first husband. But by 19 she had been crowned Miss Hungary, and it was obvious she was determined to make a career for herself in entertainment. Divorced before the age of 20, Gabor emigrated with her mother the US. Not long after, she met hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, who became her second husband. In 1952 Gabor got her big break in Hollywood, being offered a part in a Fred Astaire movie. The rest, dah-ling, is history.
Though she became an American citizen, Zsa Zsa never fully lost her trademark Hungarian accent, as you can see in the clip below.
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