The actor and celebrity Zsa Zsa Gabor has died aged 99.
The Hollywood star, arguably more famous for her larger than life personality and string of marriages than for her films, passed away at her home in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Her husband, Frederic von Anhalt, said she died of a heart attack.
“We tried everything, but her heart just stopped and that was it,” he said. “Even the ambulance tried very hard to get her back, but there was no way.”
Gabor suffered a series of illnesses in recent years and had to have her leg partially amputated in January due to poor circulation. She suffered a stroke in 2005, three years after a car accident had left her partially paralysed.
In 2010 she reportedly asked a priest to administer the last rites after surgery to remove two blood clots; the following year she had a leg amputated. The last stage of her life was reported to have been spent suffering from dementia.
This spell of ill-health was said to have begun after she was sent to hospital suffering from grief and anxiety over the death of Elizabeth Taylor in March 2011. Her then publicist John Blanchette (who died in 2014) revealed that Gabor suffered dangerously high blood pressure watching TV coverage of the news of Taylor’s death, saying: “Oh, Jane Russell and Liz Taylor – I’m next.”
Although many of the details of her early life are disputed, Gabor is believed to have been born on 6 February 1917 as Sari Gabor in Budapest, Hungary, where she was brought up with her older and younger sisters, Magda and Eva. She acted on stage in Vienna in her youth before emigrating to the United States in 1941. Her first starring role was in Moulin Rouge (1952), directed by John Huston.
She attained cult figure status starring in 1950s B-movies, including Queen of Outer Space, in which she played a rebel Venusian who falls in love with four Earthmen whom her man-hating queen wants to destroy.
Later, she maintained her profile with film and TV cameos. She made one such appearance in The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991), featuring in a scene that appeared to make fun of her real-life conviction for slapping a police officer in a traffic incident.
She appeared in dozens of films, but these achievements were arguably overshadowed later on by public interest in her extravagant style and fondness for wealthy husbands. She married nine times and her spouses included Conrad Hilton, the founder of the Hilton hotel chain, and Barbie doll creator Jack Ryan. Her last marriage was also her longest lasting: she tied the knot with Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt in 1986.
He has also battled ill-health in recent years, hospitalised twice in 2010, once after swallowing a bee and another time following his gluing his eye shut. He was also involved in a motor accident in 2011 .
Gabor’s only child, Francesca Hilton, died aged 67 in February 2015.
As news of Gabor’s death spread, friends and fans paid tribute to her on Twitter.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
Have something to tell us about this article?