Zsa Zsa Gabor, who was often cited as the person who started the idea of being “famous for being famous,” died Sunday at 99. The Hungarian-born actress and socialite reportedly died at her home in Bel-Air after suffering a heart attack.
Gabor, a pioneer of modern celebrity culture, was in poor health for several years.
Even though she became better-known for her lavish lifestyle and her many marriages, Gabor did have a substantial acting career, both in the movies and on television. She played the lead in the 1952 John Huston movie “Moulin Rouge” and had supporting roles in many films, including “Lovely to Look At” and “We’re Not Married!,” both in 1952.
She had frequent guest roles on television from the 1950s into the 1990s, including appearances on “Gilligan’s Island,” “F Troop,” “Bonanza,” “Batman,” “The Facts of Life” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
Zsa Zsa was the last surviving Gabor sister. Eva Gabor, best known for her role on “Green Acres,” died in 1995, and Magda Gabor, the least well-known of the three sisters, died in 1997.
Zsa Zsa Gabor was technically married nine times, and legally married eight times — her marriage to Felipe de Alba in 1983 was annulled because she was already married at the time, to Michael O’Hara. Earlier in her life, she was married to Conrad Hilton for five years and George Sanders for five years.
She is survived by her last husband, Frederic Prinz von Anhalt. The couple’s marriage in 1986 made Zsa Zsa royalty of sorts, and she styled herself as “Princess Zsa Zsa, Duchess of Saxony” in her later years.
Gabor made headlines in 1989 when she was accused of slapping a Beverly Hills police officer during a traffic stop. She was later convicted of slapping the officer, driving without a license and possessing an open container of alcohol, receiving a sentence of three days in jail, $12,937 in fines and community service, and was ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation.
Gabor suffered from severe health problems in her later years, and has been described as being on life support since 2011. A traffic collision on Sunset Boulevard in 2002 left her partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair. She received last rites during a health crisis in 2010 and had her right leg amputated in 2011 due to an infection.
She reportedly planned to move back to Hungary in 2017, and plans were under way to celebrate her 100th birthday next year before her return home. She would have turned 100 on Feb. 6.
Here’s an interview with Gabor by David Letterman in 1987 …