Zsa Zsa Gabor in 1959. Photo via Wikimedia
Zsa Zsa Gabor in 1959. Photo via Wikimedia

Capping a week marred by the back-to-back deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, about 100 people gathered in Beverly Hills Friday to pay final respects to actress, former beauty queen and Hollywood socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Gabor died Dec. 18 at age 99 of a heart attack, ending a years-long struggle with a variety of health issues that kept her largely out of the public eye. According to the coroner’s office, Gabor died of cardiopulmonary arrest, with coronary artery disease and cerebral vascular disease as contributing factors.

At a mid-morning service at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Gabor’s husband, Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, told stories about how they met — with him paying $5,000 to have his picture taken with her — and described her final moments.

“When it happened, you know, her blood pressure went down … slowly, very slow, very slow,” he said. “No screaming, no pain, nothing. It was just, it just slipped in, you know? … She slipped out, she was gone. She left us. She left peacefully. I wish I would go like that. It was just perfect.”

Gabor, who would have turned 100 on Feb. 6, was born in Budapest, won the Miss Hungary crown in 1936, and came to the United States, where she embarked on movie career that mostly saw her in B-movies. Married nine times, she gained her most recent fame when she slapped a Beverly Hills police officer in the face during a traffic stop in 1989.

She had been in declining health, and the subject of a court battle between her von Anhalt — her ninth husband — and her daughter, Francesca Hilton, who died last year at age 67 from a stroke.

Gabor was born Sari Gabor in Budapest on Feb. 17, 1917, the middle of three Gabor sisters — between Magda and young Eva. She was discovered by an opera singer in 1934, and she was crowned Miss Hungary two years later.

Gabor reached the apex of her career when she was directed by John Huston in the 1952 musical “Moulin Rouge.” Her other film credits included “Lovely to Look At,” “Lili” and Orson Welles’ film noir “Touch of Evil.”

Her glamour and celebrity later made her a staple on game shows, talk shows and guest TV spots in the 1950s through the ’70s. She was — some said — a forerunner of the Kardashians, famous for being famous.

Zsa Zsa Gabor was married nine times, with seven divorces and one annulment, to Burhan Asaf Belge, Conrad Hilton, George Sanders, Herbert Hunter, Joshua S. Cosden Jr., Jack Ryan, Michael O’Hara, Felkipe de Alba (the one annulment) and then Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, in 1986.

Von Anhalt was famous for throwing massive birthday parties for his wife at their Bel Air estate, which was built by Howard Hughes and previously owned by Elvis Presley. The parties continued until recent years, even though Gabor was bedridden and could not attend.

In 1989, Beverly Hills police officer Paul Kramer stopped Gabor for a traffic violation on Olympic Boulevard, and discovered an open flask of whiskey in the front seat. She slapped him during the traffic stop, and eventually spent three days in jail.

Gabor’s serious health issues can be traced to 2002, when she was seriously injured in a traffic crash that left her partially paralyzed and reliant on a wheelchair. She suffered a pair of strokes in subsequent years and was hospitalized multiple times in 2011, at one point having part of her right leg amputated.

Gabor was preceded in death by her two glamorous sisters. Magda, the eldest, died in 1997 at age 82. Eva, who starred in the 1960s sitcom “Green Acres,” died in 1995 at age 76

—City News Service

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