Zsa Zsa Gabor Wrote Her Own Rules

Zsa Zsa Gabor called everyone dahling because she couldn’t be bothered to remember their names. Now people take on the affectation — maybe not even knowing its source — when they mean to inhabit a kind of old school Hollywood glamour, which is exactly what she represented. Or more accurately, created. She died yesterday in L.A. Over the past 24 hours, the tributes and tweets have been overflowing. Everyone has so much to say about Zsa Zsa! Probably because she herself had a lot to say.

Zsa Zsa was born Sári Gábor in Budapest in 1917, a year that had to be confirmed by her publicist Edward Lozzi because she never shared it. She was an actress first, famous for her roles in Moulin Rouge (1952), Lili (1953) and Touch of Evil (1958), then a socialite, then a beloved character in her own right. She quickly became a Hollywood staple: always at the best parties, always dressed to the nines. Furs, feathers, diamonds, oversize silk bows, high high heels, perfectly curled hair framing cat-lined eyes. The kind of coifed and fluffy character we think of as so stereotypically something, but at the time was just her, just Zsa Zsa.

She was famous for being married nine times, once to Conrad Hilton, once only for a day. “I have learned that not diamonds but divorce lawyers are a girl’s best friend,” she said. Her failed marriages were never viewed as tragic, probably because she owned the narrative so wholly. She was a woman working the system with a wink and a smile. “I am a marvelous housekeeper,” she said. “Every time I leave a man, I keep his house.”

Zsa Zsa was the kind of icon who both embodied high society and subverted it. She played by the rules that worked for her and ignored the ones that didn’t. Maybe that’s what made her such an unusually compelling character. Her personality, her style, her approach to life. It was all very her, it all just worked.

Click through above to remember her. Or just to admire how no one else could possibly look so at home next a giant pink poodle.

Feature photo by Archive Photos via Getty Images.

Haley Nahman

Haley Nahman

Haley Nahman is the Features Director at Man Repeller.

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