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Remembering 100 Years of Zsa Zsa Gabor

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The one and only: Zsa Zsa Gabor

This February would have marked the 100th birthday of Princess Sari Gabor Belge Hilton Sanders Hunter Cosden Ryan O’Hara de Alba von Anhalt, Duchess of Saxony (better known as Zsa Zsa Gabor), who died last December as one of the last victims of 2016.  In a year we lost such beloved icons as David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher and Sartle favorite Marisol Escobar, it was easy for Zsa Zsa to get lost in the headlines.  Nonetheless, her passing truly marked the end of an era.  Zsa Zsa will always have a special place in the Sartle hall of fame as Jane Avril in the original Moulin Rouge (1952), which also featured Jose Ferrer as Toulouse-Lautrec, and the late Christopher Lee as Georges Seurat.

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Jane Avril (1899 Poster) by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, in the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum (left).  Zsa Zsa Gabor as Jane Avril (right).

Zsa Zsa worked with John Huston and Orson Welles, but the star of such gems as Queen of Outer Space was above all famous for being famous.  The Gabors were pioneers of celebrity bad behavior, making the Kardashians look like Donny and Marie Osmond.  Between the four of them, the Gabor women married 23 times, and Zsa Zsa was responsible for nearly half of those with her total of nine.  They even shared men.  Zsa Zsa and her sister Magda both married the same man, actor George Sanders, but in their defense, when you get up to double digits it’s hard to keep track.  Zsa Zsa also banged both Conrad Hilton and his son Nicky, who later married Elizabeth Taylor.

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The notorious Gabor women: Matriarch Jolie Gabor (bottom-center); sisters Magda (left), Zsa Zsa (center), and Ava (right).  Give up Kardashians, you ain’t got nothin’ on these girls.

Zsa Zsa’s most enduring role was undoubtedly as herself, in the epic 1989 trial of Zsa Zsa Gabor.  Arrested for assaulting a cop in Beverly Hills, Zsa Zsa maintained that the cop had assaulted her.  The #HungarianSocialiteLivesMatter movement never caught on, but in a weird way Zsa Zsa’s glamorous brand of resistance to police brutality did strike a chord with a pre-Rodney King generation.  And while it would be a bit of a stretch to make the case that a woman who once said, “I’d rather be hit by a gorgeous man than an ugly one,” was a feminist icon, she did speak to an Anita Hill era of women fed-up with abusive male authority figures.

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Zsa Zsa’s mugshot.

If nothing else, Zsa Zsa taught us at least three valuable lessons; you can never have too many husbands, too many diamonds…and how to roll off a one-liner like a boss.  Despite her airheaded blonde image, she proved herself a veritable a Dalai Lama of boudoir philosophy.  In honor of a life fabulously lived, and perhaps the most underrated wit of the 20th Century, we’ve compiled the best of Zsa Zsa quotes with some of our favorite art.

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Portrait of a Woman by Nicolas de Largilliere.

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Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida by Ivan Le Lorraine Albright, in the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Turkish Bath by Sylvia Sleigh, in the Smart Museum of Art.

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Chair by Allen Jones, in the Tate Modern.

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Kitty Fisher as Cleopatra Dissolving the Pearl (no, it’s a diamond…alternative fact!), by Joshua Reynolds, in Kenwood House.

Stay tuned for more wisdom from the legendary Zsa Zsa Gabor!

By Griff Stecyk

Griff Stecyk

Contributor