Zsa Zsa Gabor storms out of the courtroom

Zsa Zsa Gabor storms out of the courtroom

Hollywood socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor, on trial for slapping a police officer, storms out of the courtroom in the middle of the district attorney’s closing argument. The prosecutor told the jury that Gabor “craves media attention . and abused two weeks of this process for her own self-aggrandizement.” Although her attorney objected when the prosecutor said, “the defendant doesn’t know the meaning of truth,” Gabor was already running out in tears.

Gabor, was accused of slapping Officer Paul Kramer during a June 14 traffic stop. She had been pulled over for expired tags on her Rolls Royce. As Kramer checked for other violations, including having an open container of alcohol in the vehicle and an expired license, Gabor drove off. When the officer chased her down and pulled her over again, Gabor slapped him, although she claimed that she had only acted in self-defense because Kramer used excessive force in arresting her. She said that her treatment by the police was “like Nazi Germany.”

During the trial, Gabor violated a court-imposed gag order by calling prosecution witness Amir Eslaminia, “a little punk with a hairdo like a girl.” In a bizarre attempt to make amends with the witness, she told him that she spoke Turkish, to which the young man replied, “So? I’m from Iran.” Gabor replied, “Well, that’s close.”

Later that day, Gabor was convicted and sentenced to 72 hours in jail, 120 hours of community service, and $13,000 in fines and restitution. Gabor died in 2016.

Zsa Zsa Gabor's daughter and husband to appear in court

Constance Francesca Hilton stands by while her lawyer speaks to the media outside the Santa Monica Court House on July 27, 2007 in Santa Monica, Calif. Toby Canham/Getty Images

(CBS/AP) Zsa Zsa Gabor's daughter and husband, who have been fighting over whether the ailing actress needs oversight of her finances and medical care, are scheduled to appear for the first time before a judge.

Wednesday's hearing is the first time attorneys for the two sides will argue their case before Superior Court Judge Reva Goetz, who is being asked by Gabor's daughter to impose a conservatorship.

Constance Francesca Hilton petitioned to be named her mother's conservator in March, but Gabor's husband Frederic von Anhalt wants the request denied.

Hilton claims von Anhalt is keeping her mother heavily sedated and may be mismanaging her money, accusations that Gabor's husband of 25 years vehemently denies. In a court filing, he claims that Hilton has created financial problems for Gabor in the past and that he is providing the best possible care.

Gabor, who is confined to her bed and has been in poor health for months, will not attend the hearing.

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A doctor who has evaluated her wrote in a court filing that Gabor's well-being is closely tied to her remaining in a familiar environment.

"Continued access to familiar persons and environment are crucial to her comfort and maintenance of her continued health," Dr. Debra Judelson wrote in a report submitted last month.

"She is aware of her own bedroom and is calm and well cared for by husband with assistance of two aides," Judelson wrote.

Hilton, who is seeking access to medical and financial information that von Anhalt has refused to give her, is open to having a third-party act as her conservator, her attorney Kenneth Kossoff has said. Von Anhalt has stated in court filings that he should be appointed conservator if Goetz rules one is necessary.

Gabor, a Hungarian-born sexpot of the 1950s and 1960s, has been in declining health and didn't make an appearance at a February birthday party hosted at her mansion.

First published on May 2, 2012 / 10:39 AM

© 2012 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gabor was the middle of three daughters, all of whom grew up to be exquisite beauties and celebrities in their own right. Her older sister Magda became an American socialite, while the youngest girl, Eva Gabor, became nearly as notorious a celebrity as Zsa Zsa herself. There’s no telling what was in the water in Hungary!

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Glamorous actress was famous simply for being Zsa Zsa

Supreme celebrity was the great-aunt of Paris Hilton, Kardashians' spiritual matriarch.

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Zsa Zsa Gabor, Actress And Glamour Icon, Dead At 99

Zsa Zsa Gabor has died at the age of 99. The actress and socialite died of a heart attack, according to TMZ.

At her peak, Gabor was one of the most famous women in the world. Known for her unapologetically lavish lifestyle and bombshell image, she was in the public eye for more than six decades. Though Gabor withdrew from the limelight in her later years, she remained an enduring figure of old Hollywood glamour.

The daughter of a soldier and a European jewelry heiress, Sari Gabor was born on Feb. 6, 1917, (her birth year has been disputed throughout her career) in Budapest, Hungary. Gabor, who began referring to herself as Zsa Zsa in childhood, was discovered by the famous opera singer Richard Tauber in 1934, setting her on a path toward superstardom.

Although Gabor made her mark on the silver screen with roles in “Lovely to Look At” (1952), “Moulin Rouge” (1952), “Death of a Scoundrel” (1956), “Queen of Outer Space” (1958) and Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil” (1958), her foremost claim to fame was her tumultuous romances with some of the biggest Hollywood stars of the day, earning her the dubious title of “the most successful courtesan of the 20th century.”

Her nine husbands ― Gabor claims she only had eight ― include a Turkish diplomat, hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, with whom she had one child, Francesca Hilton, and actor George Sanders. Her rumored affairs with the likes of Sean Connery, JFK and Richard Burton inspired tabloid fodder that even Kim Kardashian would envy.

“Every girl should be married at least once in her life. It’s a must,” Gabor wrote in the 1970 book How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man. “Because once you have been married, you are a Mrs., and even if the marriage doesn’t work out, they can’t take that away from you.”

In addition to her luminous screen presence and storied romances, the Hungarian sweetheart won favor for her quick witted Yogi Berra-like quotes about love and marriage such as, “I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man, I keep his house,” or “ I want a man who’s kind and understanding. Is that too much to ask of a millionaire?”

Perhaps the perfect incident to describe Gabor’s peculiar temperament was her arrest in 1989. The former beauty queen slapped a Beverly Hills police officer who dared to pull her over for driving her white Rolls-Royce Corniche without a valid license. She spent three days in jail and the case was settled out of court two years later.

In 1986, she married her last husband, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, the adopted son of German royalty and roughly 30 years her junior. Through marriage, Gabor assumed the title Princess von Anhalt, Duchess of Saxony, finally becoming the princess she always wanted to be.

In 2002, Gabor was badly injured in a car crash that made her a wheelchair user for the remainder of her life, leading to a serious decline in her health. She also suffered a stroke three years later. In January 2011, doctors were forced to amputate her right leg due to an untreated blood clot infection, leaving her bedridden and under the complete care of von Anhalt.

Gabor was hospitalized again in February 2016 after having trouble breathing due to a feeding-tube-related lung infection. With the help of von Anhalt, she returned home to prepare for the surgery to replace the tube in March. Despite her declining health, von Anhalt believed she would still make it to 100 years old.

“I hope we can celebrate her 100th birthday in our house, and she lives on like her mother did,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “Her mother was 103.”

Throughout her life, Gabor had a difficult relationship with her own daughter, who died in January 2015 of a stroke at the age of 67. Five years before her death, von Anhalt sued Francesca on behalf of himself and Zsa Zsa, accusing her of fraud and forgery. The lawsuit was later dropped after Gabor refused to appear in court or sign an affidavit attesting to her desire to sue her only daughter. Before her death, Francesca reportedly said, “My mother wanted to be a princess, so she married an evil queen.”

Zsa Zsa Gabor ushered in the new age of celebrity, where one’s personal life could be as compelling as a performance on screen. Although her later years were plagued by health problems and tragedy ― after close friend Elizabeth Taylor died she reportedly said, “I’m next” ― she did everything in her power to preserve the image of the beautiful and carefree Hungarian princess she worked so hard to create.

“What is really important for a woman, you know, even more than being beautiful or intelligent, is to be entertaining,” Gabor once wrote.

Looking back at her life, all there is to say is: a job well done.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Gabor spent three days in prison for driving without a valid license. She spent three days in jail.

Zsa Zsa Gabor dies at 99 she had glamour and husbands in spades

The best known of three glamorous sisters from Hungary, actress Zsa Zsa Gabor pioneered a modern version of celebrity — she was famous for being famous.

With the advent of television talk shows, Gabor became a frequent guest as early as the 1950s, charming audiences with her fractured English and slightly risque jokes about her reputation as an oft-married seductress fond of men and money.

"Husbands are like fires. They go out if unattended," she would say. Or "I want a man who is kind and understanding. Is that too much to ask of a millionaire?"

Her nine marriages and reputation for shaving years off her age made her a pop-culture punch line. When entertainer Bob Hope joked, "You can calculate Zsa Zsa Gabor's age by the rings on her fingers," it only cemented her fame.

So did a penchant for public escapades that included a 1989 assault conviction for slapping a Beverly Hills police officer. When reporters asked if she was prepared for a long trial, she cooed: "I have enough outfits to last a year."

The final years of her life were marked by a strange circus of publicity often orchestrated by her ninth husband, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, a German immigrant who had brokered an adoption as an adult to gain a royal-sounding title. He issued frequent media alerts on her precarious health and publicly squabbled with Gabor's only child, Francesca Hilton.

Gabor died Sunday of heart failure in her Bel Air mansion, according to her publicist Edward Lozzi. She was 99.

The last surviving Gabor sister, she had been in declining health after being seriously injured in 2002 when the Rolls-Royce convertible in which she was riding, with her hairdresser at the wheel, jumped a curb on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood and struck a light pole. The accident left Gabor partially paralyzed.

She had been in and out of the hospital since breaking her hip in 2010 and having most of her right leg amputated in early 2011 after developing an infection following hip-replacement surgery.

Although her personal life grabbed the headlines, Gabor did build an acting career. One of her finest film roles came early in her career when she portrayed Henri Toulouse-Lautrec's model in 1952's "Moulin Rouge." In directing her, John Huston reportedly said: "Zsa Zsa, forget about acting. Just make love to the camera."

Gabor later told a biographer: "Now, I knew very little about acting but a great deal about making love. It worked."

In 1958 she made an impression as a strip-club owner in the Orson Welles cult classic "Touch of Evil" and appeared in the campy "Queen of Outer Space," one of her many more forgettable movies. She acted in at least 30 films.

By the 1970s, Gabor had begun turning down the smaller parts that came her way but would occasionally appear on TV and in movies. She made appearances on talk shows, and on game shows as a panelist, into the 1990s.

To Gabor, everyone was "dahlink," an endearment that entered the vernacular of mid-20th century America. She was a celebrity of the old school who believed in glamour. She once said of today's actresses, "When you see them in real life, they look like nothing." Not so Zsa Zsa, who flaunted her jewels and furs.

She turned her celebrity into a commodity, mining her own reputation for one-liners. "I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house," she might say, or "There is nothing wrong with a woman encouraging a man's advances, as long as they are in cash."

The aristocratic, blond Gabor was reportedly wooed by such rich and famous men as Prince Aly Khan, billionaire J. Paul Getty and actor Richard Burton, none of whom she married.

Shortly after arriving in the U.S. in 1942, she made her most notable marriage with second husband Conrad Hilton, the hotel magnate, who was more than twice her age.

The union lasted five years. The couple's daughter, Francesca, was the only offspring of the Gabor sisters, who had at least 18 marriages among them. Older sister Magda, who largely stayed out of the limelight, had at least five husbands, while younger sister Eva had at least four. Eva made the biggest splash as an actress, co-starring in the CBS sitcom "Green Acres," which debuted in 1965.

Life with his young wife, Hilton later wrote, was "a little like holding a Roman candle — beautiful, exciting, but you were never quite sure when it would go off. And it is surprisingly hard to live the Fourth of July every day."

He added, "Glamour, I found, is expensive."

For her part, Gabor later said Hilton was the only husband she had married for money. In the divorce settlement she received $35,000 and $2,500 a month until she remarried. That union linked her by marriage to tabloid favorite Paris Hilton, Conrad's great-granddaughter.

Gabor's next marriage, in 1949, was to actor George Sanders, whom she called her one true love. But Gabor complained that the mercurial Sanders wanted to turn her into a "little hausfrau" and divorced him after five years. Sanders, who was later briefly married to Gabor's sister Magda, committed suicide in 1972.

Gabor next married businessman Herbert Hutner, oilman Joshua Cosden, inventor Jack Ryan, attorney Michael O'Hara and Mexican businessman Felipe de Alba. The De Alba union was declared invalid after a day because Gabor's divorce from O'Hara wasn't final.

In 1986, when Gabor married Von Anhalt, she told reporters he would be her last husband. She was true to her word.

Zsa Zsa Gabor was born Sari Gabor in Budapest on Feb. 6, 1917, and named for Hungarian actress Sari Fedak. Her father, Vilmos, was a cavalry officer turned diamond merchant, and her mother, Jolie, was a onetime aspiring actress who steered her daughters toward show business.

At 15, Zsa Zsa entered the Miss Hungary contest, which led to another beauty contest in Vienna. Instead of returning to Swiss boarding school, Gabor proposed to Burhan Belge, a former Turkish ambassador to Hungary, and the couple married.

But bored with her first husband — and entranced by sister Eva's descriptions of life in Hollywood, where she had started acting — Gabor hopped a ship to America in 1941 and had her marriage annulled.

Her mother came too and started a successful jewelry business in New York. With her daughters, she became a fixture of high society. Both Zsa Zsa and Eva often appeared on the covers of popular magazines, and in 1953 the three sisters had a nightclub act in Las Vegas.

Gabor said she was "born to make headlines," and often did.

In a 1989 incident that came to be known as "the slap heard 'round the world," she was convicted of assaulting Paul Kramer, a Beverly Hills police officer who had pulled over her Rolls-Royce Corniche for having expired license-plate tags. She claimed she never hit him, served three days in an El Segundo jail and paid nearly $13,000 in fines. She later poked fun at the cop-slapping incident in the movie "The Naked Gun 2 1/2."

She became entangled in a slander suit brought by actress Elke Sommer, who didn't appreciate being called "a has-been." Gabor was ordered to pay $3.3 million in damages in 1993.

Gabor and Von Anhalt pursued lawsuits against the driver of her Rolls-Royce in the aftermath of her 2002 accident, and against Gabor's daughter over disputed finances, one of several clashes that publicly pitted Von Anhalt against Francesca Hilton.

But when Francesca Hilton began performing a stand-up comedy routine in 2008 that riffed on her famous family lineage, Gabor supported the move, according to her daughter. "My mother and I, we're the best of friends now that we're the same age," Hilton, then 61, said in a joke referring to Gabor that wrapped up the act. Hilton died in January 2014 of an apparent stroke. She was 67.

Medical bills and meager savings forced Von Anhalt to list Gabor's mansion in 2011, he said. Two years later the home sold for $11 million in a court-approved deal that allowed the couple to continue living there for three more years.

An accomplished horsewoman, Gabor rode in the Rose Parade and owned a horse ranch in Ventura County. She also wrote several autobiographies, including a slender 1970 volume, "How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man."

"A girl must marry for love," Gabor once said, "and keep on marrying until she finds it."

She is survived by her husband, who could not immediately be reached for comment by The Times on Sunday.

Nelson and Beyette are former Times staff writers.

Times staff writer Tre'vell Anderson contributed to this report.

Zsa Zsa found guilty of cop-slapping

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Zsa Zsa Gabor, who has portrayed herself as a victimized socialite who acted strictly in self-defense when she slapped a Beverly Hills cop, was found guilty Friday of battery on a police officer.

Gabor, wearing an orange and black print silk dress and a diamond brooch, also was found guilty of driving with an expired license and driving with an open flask of Jack Daniels found in the glove compartment of her $215,000 Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible.

She was acquitted of a fourth charge of disobeying a police officer.

The fiery former Miss Hungary now faces up to 18 months in jail and $3,000 in fines. Her sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 17.

She also was fined $500 Friday by Municipal Court Judge Charles Rubin for calling another police officer who served as a prosecution witness a liar.

Gabor, who had stomped out of the courtroom during her trial on several occasions, was all smiles and shrugged off the conviction only minutes after the jury announced its verdict.

Accompanied by her eighth husband, Prince Frederick von Anhalt of West Germany, Gabor said, 'I'm not shocked. I expected it.'

'There's an old saying, 'You can't fight City Hall,'' she said. 'I don't want to live in Beverly Hills. . This is ridiculous.'

Shortly before hearing the verdict, Gabor told her only child, Francesca Hilton, 'Don't worry. Momma won't go to jail.'

Her attorney, William Graysen, said Gabor would not decide on whether to appeal the conviction until after sentencing.

Asked if she feared going to jail, Gabor said: 'If I go to jail, Bistro Gardens (an upscale restaurant) said they would serve me food three times a day. And at least I could have some peace and I could write my book. Actually it would be OK.'

Immediately following Gabor's improptu news conference, the courthouse was cleared for about 30 minutes because of a hoax bomb threat.

Gabor, who says she is 66, maintains she was physically and verbally abused by Officer Paul Kramer when he stopped her June 14.

She said she slapped the hulking officer when he pulled her over a second time after she drove off while he was checking her expired license on his radio. A search of the car turned up the flask of whiskey, which Gabor's husband testified he had left in the Rolls without her knowledge.

During the trial, Gabor said she was 'standing up for the battered women of America.' And, although she repeatedly called Kramer 'gorgeous' and a 'fine specimen,' she also termed him 'Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin in one' and suggested he be shipped off to a kibbutz.

The jury reached its verdict after deliberating 12 hours over a three-day period. The three-week trial cost taxpayers $30,000.

'We were very content with the decision we had to come to,' juror Kevin Goodman, a Los Angeles attorney, said, adding that the jury 'tried to pay a lot more attention to what is going on on the stand' and ignore Gabor's outspoken remarks and the hundreds of reporters and paparrazi who tracked her trial.

'We felt a lot of weight as jurors,' he said.

Gabor's defense was partly based on her contention that when Kramer told her to 'f-- off,' she believed it to mean she could drive off after he stopped her for expired registration tags. She also claimed she hit Kramer strictly in self-defense when he stopped her a second time.

Jurors said they disregarded much of Gabor's testimony because she was so often inconsistent. But they did acquit Gabor of disobeying Kramer for driving off because they believed she misunderstood or did not hear his order.

'We honestly didn't believe she had willfully disobeyed the officer,' said juror Kathy Hudson, 30, a bank employee.

Her defense lawyer attempted to show that Kramer has a history of abusive behavior, alleging that he used excessive force when he yanked Gabor from her car, handcuffed her and forced her to sit on the curb.

'When a policeman uses excessive force, he is no longer a policeman. He has stepped over the line. He has gone from being a policeman to a criminal,' Graysen told the jury in closing arguments. 'Ms. Gabor had every right to slap him.

Kramer, the first witness to testify, said Gabor tried to run him down, cursed him, spat at him and slapped him. Kramer admitted using profanity himself, but only after Gabor continued to struggle as he handcuffed her.

Prosecutor Elden Fox, in summing up the case, told the jury Gabor 'abused' the judicial process for her own 'self-aggrandizement.'

In a statement read on the courthouse steps, police spokesman Lt. Jim Hill said, 'No one deserves vindication more than Officer Paul Kramer' and the department's officers 'will remain dedicated to the principle that no one is above the law.'

Gabor, who has appeared in such movies as 'Picture Mommy Dead,' 'Moulin Rouge' and 'Boys Night Out,' staged daily performances during her trial that included a coquettish raising of a frilly skirt to display a leg she said Kramer bruised. She also stated that she was too much of a lady to use profanity despite a police videotape of a jailhouse phone call in which she said, 'Some f--- cop pulled me over.'

Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor had several strokes and was in a car accident in 2002 that left her permanently disabled. These traumas made her a high risk for DVT. In 2010, she was rushed to the hospital with swelling in her leg, caused by a blood clot. She survived the DVT but died in 2016 at age 99.

Dwight Arrington Myers, also known as Heavy D, was a record producer, rapper and actor. He was also a leader and member of the band Heavy D & the Boyz, a group that was popular in the United States throughout the 1990’s. He died in 2011 from a pulmonary embolism. The embolism likely formed during an extended trip by air.

Hollywood celebrity “was a Hungarian at heart”

The glamour that usually surrounds Prinz Frédéric von Anhalt, a well-received guest of countless Hollywood parties, is somewhat missing this morning as he is finishing his breakfast on InterContinental’s terrace overlooking the Danube. In his outfit consisting of a plain T-shirt and black jeans, his highness looks more like someone who would prefer to stay incognito than a glamorous prince. However, today he does not manage to remain unnoticed, as during our interview two German tourists start talking to him, praising his great insights and outspoken personality. Eventually, they ask for a photo with the prince and wish him well.

Resting place in Budapest

Born Hans-Robert Lichtenberg in 1943 in Germany, the prince became famous not only through his aristocratic adoption – which brought him the family name Prinz von Anhalt and the title Duke of Saxony and Westphalia, Count of Ascania – and his newspaper or television interviews. Prince Fred received widespread recognition as the ninth husband of legendary Hollywood actress and socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor. Of course, this number is broadly disputed depending on who you ask and who you count as a husband. But more on this later.

The former beauty queen and her prince lived together in marriage for 36 years. And they went through thick and thin, from presidential dinners and cheering crowds to loud scandals, broken china and even a police arrest. Since Gabor’s devastating car accident in Los Angeles in 2002 until her death in 2016, von Anhalt took care of his wife in their decaying Bel Air estate.

After her death the prince repeatedly came to Budapest to fulfil her last wishes and bury her remains in her hometown. “It was her last will, which she gave me in writing, to get back to Budapest,” he says. “She was born in Budapest and she wanted to be buried here.” The reason that this has not happened yet is – rumour has it – the high cost of a grandiose funeral befitting the life and legend of Zsa Zsa Gabor, but there also seems to be an argument about the place where her ashes should be buried. This is at least what Edward Lozzi, Gabor’s former agent, claimed in the media. He stated that she wanted to be buried in the Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles next to her sister Éva Gabor and her daughter Francesca Hilton.

At heart always a Hungarian

As Gabor’s widower and only heir, von Anhalt has the last word regarding her final resting place, and he is pushing for a return to Hungary. As he says, Zsa Zsa Gabor was always a Hungarian at heart. “The Hungarian flag and the Hungarian coat of arms were hanging all over our house,” he asserts. Even the china was from Hungary, from porcelain manufacturer Herend. Gabor often warned him to be especially careful with the fragile pieces, though the feisty Hungarian apparently threw a couple of pieces at him in the heat of the moment.

That Gabor always stayed loyal to her European homeland was expressed in many things, says von Anhalt: “We had a lot of Hungarian guests, and with her family she was always talking exclusively in Hungarian. I could not understand a word,” he laughs. She is said to have spoken seven languages fluently, and the couple communicated mostly in German.

The personality – who even in old age still put a lot of emphasis on dressing up provocatively – often invited Hungarian students from the nearby University of California, Los Angeles. “She was sitting at the piano and then they had to sing something Hungarian.,” von Anhalt recalls. If someone could accompany on violin she “opened up like a rose and started singing Hungarian songs. And if we were in Hungary in a restaurant where they played Hungarian music, she even started to dance.” He says she always stayed true to her Hungarian roots and never “americanised” herself.

A life straight from a Hollywood script

Much like Zsa Zsa’s life in Hollywood, the story of her European childhood and her escape from Hungary is no less exciting. She was born in Budapest as Gábor Sári in 1917 – a fact that over the years became more and more obscured, with Zsa Zsa constantly claiming she was actually born in 1930. She grew up as one of three daughters of a wealthy Jewish military man. Already in Budapest the Gabor sisters were admired for their beauty and intelligence. As a teenager Zsa Zsa got a role in Vienna to play in Richard Tauber’s newest opera, “Der singende Traum“. In 1936 she was elected Miss Hungary.

Zsa Zsa (left) with her sister, her parents and the family car.

In an attempt to save their daughter from the ever-growing antisemitism of fascist Hungary, her parents, Vilmos and Jolie Gabor, married Zsa Zsa to Turkish politician and diplomat Burhan Asaf Belge, who took her to Ankara. As the self-spread rumour has it, Gabor’s first big catch happened there and it was none other than the father of all Turks, Kemal Atatürk, who supposedly fell in love with the young Hungarian beauty. Whatever happened in the Turkish capital, the fact is that in 1941 Zsa Zsa wanted to go on a holiday, so she embarked on a cruise to India but later decided to keep on sailing to America.

When she arrived in New York all she had with her was her suitcase. She wanted to study to become a veterinarian but soon her plans changed when she met Conrad Hilton, a bachelor and millionaire hotel owner. Through her new spouse, Gabor landed atop New York’s society. Swathed in luxurious fur and jewels, she quickly became a glamour icon desired by every man and envied by every woman. Her unusually big eyes, blonde hair and esprit made her famous and popular worldwide. Not long after Gabor arrived in Hollywood her acting career started with films such as “Moulin Rouge”and “We’re Not Married!”, the latter with co-stars Ginger Rogers and Marilyn Monroe.

As Jane Avril in the 1952 movie Moulin Rouge.

An incredible line of suitors

In 1947 her only child, Francesca Hilton, was born. That same year she divorced Conrad Hilton. After that came an incredible line of suitors and husbands who included many famous actors and businessmen who mattered during the 1950s and 1960s, and several politicians. Shortly after she concluded her marriage with Hilton she married actor George Sanders (who later also married her sister Magda).

He was succeeded by investment banker Herbert Hutner, who was followed by oil heir Joshua S. Cosden, then inventor of the Barbie doll Jack Ryan and attorney Michael O’Hara. And these were just the husbands to whom she made a “lifelong” commitment. In between two marriages Zsa Zsa’s lovers included among others Sean Connery, who according to her had “velvety soft skin”, Richard Burton who “liked to talk dirty” and Frank Sinatra who refused to move his car from the driveway unless they slept together.

In 1983 Gabor married actor Felipe de Alba but their marriage was soon annulled when it turned out she was still married to O’Hara. This accounts for why Zsa Zsa numbered von Anhalt – whom she married in 1986 – as only husband No. 8, while others believe him to be No. 9. von Anhalt himself has even claimed to be the 10th husband but he could not account for whom the missing spouse should be.

Zsa Zsa always managed to stay close to the world of politics and was good friends with President Richard Nixon. The commander in chief even set her up with Henry Kissinger (who then had to get out of their second date in order to invade Cambodia). John F. Kennedy on the other hand was turned down by her. Ronald Reagan and the Bush family were among the many distinguished dinner guests visiting her Bel Air residence.

Zsa Zsa and Frédéric with Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

According to the prince, the menu at these parties was often prepared by Gabor personally. “She cooked everything herself and nobody was allowed in the kitchen. Often she prepared a special kind of goulash soup, which she called Dracula goulash. It was goulash with sauerkraut and a little bit of sour cream.”

The biggest star on the red carpet

Although Zsa Zsa was often considered an actress – mostly for lack of a better word – her greatest role was undoubtedly herself. As von Anhalt states: “She always knew she will not be a leading lady in a film. She knew it. Because she was not an actress, because she just could not do it.”

According to the prince, Gabor preferred reality and liked to play herself. The movies only interested her as far as the attention went, but she never wanted to learn any lines. “She always wanted to play short roles. Zsa Zsa wanted fame, she wanted to be in the movies but she never wanted a script. She just wanted to be herself.” He believes that this is what made Zsa Zsa such a unique icon in Hollywood. “Every little waiter in Los Angeles wanted to be a film star. But Zsa Zsa Gabor did not. She did not want to be a film star. This is what made her something special in Hollywood. She could always do what the others could not.”

Gabor often stated that she did not care what people said as long as they were talking about her. And she made sure that she always stayed the centre of attention. When her glorious years in the golden age of Hollywood – during which she was admired for her gleaming beauty, constant love affairs and the infamous title of “the most successful courtesan of the twentieth century” – slowly came to an end, she made herself known as a witty woman who had a spicy retort to every question. One of her most famous remarks went: “I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man, I keep his house.”

Even in her older age, the prince explains, whenever Zsa Zsa appeared somewhere she always dominated the occasion. He recalled once when the couple went to the Golden Globe award ceremony: “Zsa Zsa liked to attend these events in a red velvet dress. It was important to her that the colours would pop out. And then we walked down the red carpet and all the photographers stuck to her. And even the biggest star could have walked behind her unnoticed because everybody was only focused on Zsa Zsa Gabor. This is why they used to say ‘If Zsa Zsa Gabor is walking down the red carpet, do not go. Wait until she goes in and only then you follow. Otherwise, nobody will take a picture of you’.”

A little scandal is the best publicity

But it was not only her spicy remarks and glorious dresses that kept the Hollywood star on the cover pages. “Zsa Zsa Gabor knew how to make a scandal,” explains her widower. He goes even further and claims she enjoyed scandalising. “She really liked causing a commotion.” When this happened it could sometimes be a bit of a shock, as the prince explains: “I am driving my car down Sunset Boulevard, I am on my way home and I hear on the radio: Breaking News, Zsa Zsa Gabor was arrested.”

What actually happened – as the whole world would soon find out – was that a police officer had the nerve to stop her in her Rolls-Royce in 1989 for driving without a valid licence. “When giving a ticket, a police officer can be nice to a lady, he could flirt with her or he can be rude,” says von Anhalt. “And if someone was rude to Zsa Zsa she fired straight back at him. She did not let him talk to her like that.” Zsa Zsa slapped the police officer, an act that 30 years later seems simply unbelievable. The subsequent case went for 14 days, each closely covered by the media. “This is how it went on every day. The viewers already knew that at 5 o’clock the next episode of Zsa Zsa Gabor’s court drama will be on,” remembers von Anhalt.

“I am driving my car down Sunset Boulevard, I am on my way home and I hear on the radio: Breaking News, Zsa Zsa Gabor was arrested.” – Photo: Nóra Halász: BZT

Of course, for a European prince with a less outrageous background these first scandals seemed somewhat strange. “At the beginning you do not really know what to do with that,” he says. “But later when you have already lived in Hollywood for a while you realise that these scandals are a part of it. Many times they are more important for Hollywood than the films themselves.”

“It doesn’t have to be true, the point is that people are talking about me”

As the prince explains, the scandals were always a good means to keep the publicity alive. However, if Zsa Zsa thought that the details were not extravagant enough she often felt the need to spice up the facts with some “extra paprika”. One of her most remarkable sayings was, “It doesn’t have to be true the point is that people are talking about me.” This was something that she seemed to have in common with her mother and her sisters Éva and Magda, who were also actresses and socialites. It seems as if the whole family had a unique flair for alternative facts.

As Cindy Adams – longtime friend of the family, who wrote a biography of mother Jolie Gabor – said: “They would lie about everything.” Adams recalls an instance when she was writing the book, and youngest sister Éva was about to marry a Catholic man and she was wearing a huge cross. To Adams’ question of why her Jewish daughter was wearing a cross, Jolie replied: “Éva’s about-to-be-husband hates the Jews, so in this book you make us Catholic.” As Adams claimed: “They have always lived outside of reality there was never any truth in anything.”

This certain disregard for facts Zsa Zsa managed to pass on to her last spouse. The constant pursuit of fabrications can be interpreted in the following way: much like their beloved Hollywood, Gabor and von Anhalt were all about storytelling. They treated every new interview as a rewrite of their already incredible stories. If they did not find real life dramatic or funny enough they changed some details. This has left a lot of people uncertain about their life.

The prince himself seems to be like a mysterious character out of a book of Hollywood stories. There is great uncertainty about how he came by his title, how many previous wives he had and if he has any children. It is therefore no surprise that as a Republican Party member von Anhalt is a great friend of President Donald J. Trump.

A love story written in the boulevards

Much like with every story about Gabor and von Anhalt there is no telling how exactly the two of them met. Prince Fred told The Budapest Times a story straight out of any screenwriter’s desk: in an attempt to get into the party of the author Sydney Sheldon, von Anhalt put on his “royal” uniform and rented a convertible Rolls-Royce with a driver and bodyguard, and drove up to the writer’s house.

“In Germany they probably would have put me in an asylum but in America anything goes, in Hollywood anything is possible.” To his biggest surprise not only did security let him in but the hosts greeted him as an old friend. “And then a door opened and Zsa Zsa Gabor came through. And she said: ‘Hello, I also speak German.’ And she came to me. We spoke for five minutes and then she introduced me to everybody as her best friend from Germany. This is how it happened.”

Later that night von Anhalt went home like a disenchanted Cinderella. But already the next day the Hungarian sex idol sent her own chauffeur to pick up prince Fred from the Hilton, where he was staying, and bring him to her place in Bel Air. “And from then on I was in the house,” he summarises as the beginning of their story.

Whether this story or a different, earlier version covers the whole truth is unimportant. In any case, the prince’s profuse confidence caught the eyes of the Hollywood star and there was no separating them from then on. Finally, one morning in Bel Air, when he came downstairs for breakfast, Gabor’s attorney, secretary, manager and press agent awaited him.

“We spoke for five minutes and then she introduced me to everybody as her best friend from Germany. This is how it happened.” – Photo: Nóra Halász / BZT

“Suddenly her press agent comes down the hall, pats me on my shoulders and tells me, ‘We gonna do it on the 14 th ’,” remembers the prince. “I asked him: ‘What are we doing on the 14th?’ And he replied: ‘Well, the wedding will be on the 14th.’ This is how it went down. And then I said: ‘That cannot be, I cannot get married on the 14th because I have to go to Germany. I have a business in Germany. I cannot just leave everything and get married.

“And then Zsa Zsa Gabor entered the hall and she pointed with her finger at me and she said: ‘If you go to Germany, you will never be welcome here anymore’.” von Anhalt stayed. He and Zsa Zsa married on August 14, 1986.

The public received their sudden matrimony with mixed feelings. In any case, everybody agreed with mum Jolie, who said: “Zsa Zsa Gabor has already been married eight times by now. Now we need a prince or a duke.” But still, von Anhalt was received with suspicion. Jolie pretended to have a heart attack to stop the wedding but it did not change anything. The ceremony took place as planned.

But were they truly in love? Zsa Zsa once famously said: “Getting divorced because you do not love a man is just as silly as getting married just because you do.” von Anhalt views things with a little more confidence: “Zsa Zsa was in love with me from the first day we met.” But his love for her, he says, came a bit later, over the years.

“It was love at first sight”

Fragile family peace

Nevertheless, the Gabor family needed a real man who could help them run their extravagant lives. Prince Fred often had to fly across the whole country to solve Jolie’s problems with her personnel. “The mother has always been the general of the family,” he explains. “The girls were only doing something if Jolie Gabor gave her OK. All of her daughters listened to her.” Magda, Éva and Zsa Zsa often drove out to her place in Palm Springs to ask her advice.

As the only man in a family of feisty, belligerent women, von Anhalt’s main job was to maintain the peace. “Many times it was my job to bring them together or put some space between them. That was not always so easy to accomplish. Because they always fought with each other, and I never knew who was in the right because they all spoke Hungarian. All I knew was that they were on bad terms with each other and I had to make peace again. And then they did not meet for a while, and I had to get them to meet each other.”

The final act

In 2002, Zsa Zsa suffered a terrible car accident on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. A couple of years later she had a stroke. After that her condition slowly deteriorated. In the beginning, the couple planned to move to Hungary. “She wanted to go back to her homeland. Also because she was advised to regularly go to the thermal baths. She needed massages and physiotherapy. I talked to a Hungarian doctor and he said Budapest would be perfect for us. There we could do everything she needed.”

Von Anhalt says her daughter Francesca – who always had a bad relationship with him – managed to stop them from moving to Hungary. He says Francesca told her mother: “If you go I will kill myself.” Soon fate took the decision out of their hands, because only a few months later Zsa Zsa’s condition did not allow her to travel internationally anymore.

It took him a great effort even to get his wife out of the house. “My wife told me, ‘I will never leave the house in a wheelchair’. So I called Liz Taylor, who also sat in a wheelchair, and I told her: ‘Please come over and show her how you do it’.” He felt sure: “I just had to get her to leave the house once, then she will always do it.”

In 2011 Zsa Zsa was hospitalised and lost her right leg. After that, she hardly ever left her own bed. “During the last years she could not see that well anymore and she was not always lucid, but she could still press my hand. And through that I knew that she is still there.” Following her reaction to her friend Elizabeth Taylor’s death in 2011, the prince thought it best to keep bad news from her towards the end of her life. So Gabor never found out that her estranged daughter Francesca died before her, in 2015. After long years of sickness, Zsa Zsa died on December 18, 2016, shortly before her 100th birthday.

Grand return to homeland

In accordance with his wife’s will, von Anhalt is trying to organise a funeral service in Budapest worthy of her life. The prince was surprised at how many people still idolise Gabor in her home country. “I did not know that she is so popular in Hungary and that she is still so loved so many years after her death. Her name is simply huge in Hungary. This is what I discovered in the last four days. And then I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if maybe the Ministry of Culture would come forward and tell me, ‘Let us take care of the funeral’. I would be very honoured.”

“During the last years she could not see that well anymore and she was not always lucid, but she could still press my hand. And through that I knew that she is still there.”

The Hollywood icon could find her resting place in Kerepesi Cemetery, the most famous in Budapest. von Anhalt would like the state to pay for an honorary funeral – partially because of financial reasons. Now that he has not succeeded he is trying to get private donors to chip in.

The prince has a lot of plans to honour his wife in her hometown. He would like to open a museum of Zsa Zsa’s red-carpet outfits and other memorabilia. This is why he repeatedly visits the Hungarian capital, to organise a display. He has even promised to bring her star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, together with many big personalities who would like to be here for her last big feast. But until all these plans of a grand Hollywood funeral come true, Zsa Zsa Gabor’s ashes remain in their Bel Air living room awaiting their final big entry.

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As news filtered out about how Conrad’s parents, Rick and Kathy Hilton, were hoping to force him to get mental health help in exchange to helping him get out of jail, we revisit the famous and infamous cast of characters who populate his family tree and who could claim a six-degrees kind of connection to the famous Hilton family. This famous cast includes Elizabeth Taylor, Zsa Zsa Gabor as well as some “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” a Rothschild family member and 1990s TV babes Shannen Doherty and Pamela Anderson:

Conrad Hilton (1887 – 1979), the founder of the the eponymous hotel chain (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Conrad Hilton, Conrad’s great-grandfather: The New Mexico-born business tycoon opened his first hotel in Cisco Texas in 1919, then expanded to hotels throughout Texas and then throughout the world, with Hilton Hotels becoming the first international hotel chain and facilitating both American tourism and business and around the world. Conrad Hilton was married three times, including to Zsa Zsa Gabor, and had four children, including a daughter with Gabor. When Hilton died in 1979 at age 91, he left the bulk of his estate to a foundation in his name, a move that was later contested by his second son Barron who ran the hotel business and expanded the Hilton family fortune.

Zsa Zsa Gabor in 1986. (AP Photo)

Zsa Zsa Gabor, second wife of Conrad Hilton: The Hungarian-born actress and socialite helped pioneer the “occupation” of being famous for being famous — an endeavor taken to new heights by Paris Hilton’s reality TV pursuits in the 2000s. Gabor was known for her extravagant Hollywood life-style and nine husbands, of which Conrad Hilton was her second. She and Hilton were married from 1942 to 1947. Hilton also was the father of her only child, Francesca. In her 1991 autobiography, Gabor claimed that Francesca was the product of a rape by the hotel magnate. But during her marriage to Hilton, Gabor also claimed to have had had an affair in 1944 with Hilton’s oldest son Conrad “Nicky” Hilton Jr. Gabor died last year at age 99.

Elizabeth Taylor. (PRNewsFoto/House of Taylor Jewelry, Inc.)

Elizabeth Taylor: The screen legend was 17 and had just starred in “Father of the Bride” when she married Conrad “Nicky” Hilton Jr., the oldest of Conrad Hilton’s four sons in 1950. For her wedding and iconic $3,500 gown, her studio MGM footed the bill. But the marriage was doomed from the start. Nicky was a hard-drinking playboy and gambler and became abusive during the eight-month marriage, Taylor later said. Nicky Hilton died at age 42 of an alcohol-related heart attack in 1969.

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Richard Howard Hilton, Conrad and Paris’ father: “Rick” Hilton is the grandson of Conrad Hilton and the sixth son of Barron Hilton, the retired chairman, president and CEO of Hilton Hotels Corporation. Rick owns a real estate brokerage firm that specializes in high-end properties in and around Beverly Hills, Bel AIr and Malibu. He married Kathy Avanzino in 1979 and together they have four children, Paris, Nicky, Barron II and Conrad.

Kathy, Rick, and Conrad Hilton in 2008. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Kathy Hilton, In addition to being the mother of Paris and Conrad, the former Kanthy Avanzino is the half sister to former child stars Kim Richards and Kyle RIchards.

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Rick Salomon at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)

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The ‘Prince’ of Hollywood: Zsa Zsa Gabor’s Widower Reveals His Hustler Past as He Auctions Her Belongings

Prince Frederic von Anhalt, the late star's ninth and final husband, is an operator who bought his bloodline and says he made millions selling titles to other wannabes. As he preps the April sell-off of his late wife’s estate, he opens up about their marriage and his dubious backstory.

Gary Baum

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Ralphs in Westwood for $100 apiece. It was October 1982 and Hans Robert Lichtenberg &mdash who now called himself Prince Frederic von Anhalt, Duke of Saxony and Westphalia, Count of Ascania &mdash was newly arrived in Los Angeles and ready to party.

His car pulled up to what his concierge at the Beverly Hilton had assured him was the soiree of the evening: a black-tie affair thrown by writer Sidney Sheldon at his Maison du Soleil estate in Holmby Hills. The Sinatras and the Douglases would be there Rosemary Clooney, too.

But as he headed up the steps in a dark green dress uniform laden with epaulets and medals, he encountered a possible hitch &mdash Sheldon’s wife, actress Jorja Curtright (Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing), stood at the front door alongside her husband, welcoming invited guests, which he certainly was not.

“I wasn’t nervous,” von Anhalt recalls. “Either it works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you go home.” He approached Curtright , mustering his most regal manner. “Your royal highness,” she said, “Nice to see you again!”

“She never saw me in her whole life!” says von Anhalt. “At that point, Sidney bowed.” The faux prince had found his perfect dominion: Hollywood.

The first guest to approach the then-39-year-old was Hungarian-born Zsa Zsa Gabor , then 65 and famous for her own carefully constructed persona. “We spoke German, about our love of Munich,” he says. Then he quickly fled the party, worried he’d be found out. “I said I had another engagement.” She asked where he was staying and the next day called for him to visit her Bel Air mansion. Four years later, he’d become her ninth husband.

The shameless couple were the original hateable duo, joyful villains of the tabloid press. For 20 years, they titillated the rag-reading masses with silly glamour and scandal &mdash like Zsa Zsa’s infamous 1989 slap of a Beverly Hills cop &mdash long before contemporary famous-for-being-famous couples like Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt monetized their own narratives through reality television and social media. It lasted until Gabor fell ill in the early 2000s , when the gossip grew darker about her alleged swindler husband and his egregious care.

A year and counting since Gabor died at age 99, von Anhalt, 74, is preparing their Bel Air mansion for a splashy April 14 estate auction of her belongings &mdash from her extensive wardrobe of Chanel and Valentino to the Steinway piano her third husband, actor George Sanders, painted gold after he won best supporting actor for 1950’s All About Eve. Combing through her things, von Anhalt reflects on what he considers a well-lived life, albeit one built on a brazen history of chicanery. As what is likely to be his most public chapter comes to an end, von Anhalt is finally willing to come (mostly) clean about his singular journey, which he views with no small amount of pride.

Von Anhalt never told Gabor he hadn’t been invited to the Sheldons , he says, but he did soon inform her of his staged theatrics he claims that she was delighted by his audacity. “She felt, if somebody can do that, he can do much, much more.”

Hans Robert Lichtenberg became Prince Frederic von Anhalt, Duke of Saxony and Westphalia, Count of Ascania in 1979, when the impoverished 81-year-old Princess Marie-Auguste von Anhalt, daughter-in-law to the final German kaiser, adopted him in exchange for a 2,000-mark monthly pension. (She died in 1981.)

The deal was arranged through Hans Hermann Weyer , a German broker of nobility titles who goes by the Count of Yorck and who at that point had recently been imprisoned in connection with the sale of a phony academic credential. Weyer calls the adoption “the most appalling” out of more than 500 he’s executed. He says Lichtenberg “came to my elegant office in a jogging suit” and that he “owned a gay sauna with connections to the red-light district.” But Weyer is most likely upset because he still hasn’t received most of his 200,000-mark fee. (“Screw him: He’s a crooked guy,” responds von Anhalt.) Von Anhalt isn’t coy about why he purchased his title. “I needed a door-opener,” he says. “It was a tool. This was a business decision &mdash show business.”

Born in 1943 in the provincial western German village of Wallhausen to a strict bookkeeper mother and a distant police detective father, von Anhalt concedes that making Gabor his literal Jewish American Princess was, among other pleasures, “payback” against a father who who was physically abusive toward him.

Young Lichtenberg first saw his future at a wealthy cousin’s wedding when he was 12 years old. A professional cameraman had been hired to memorialize the event. While other family members abashedly retreated, Lichtenberg rushed forward, hogging the frame, entranced by the camera’s ability to turn him into entertainment, a person happily flattened into a mere personality. “I was the lead, next to the bride,” he says, still smiling at the moment. “They couldn’t get rid of me.” Notes his younger brother Rolf, a winemaker in the region: “He always tried to be the center of attention, and managed to.”

By his own account, von Anhalt went on to become a serial entrepreneur in Germany, owning and operating a disco, steakhouse and multiple saunas around Dortmund. By the 1970s , he says, he had settled into the tony embassy neighborhood of Munich, where he would engage in loan-sharking: “Once you have money, you have lots of broken-down people coming to you,” he explains. “Somebody wanted 50,000 [Deutsche marks] and you get 75,000 back. It was under the table: easy coming, easy going.”

A THR attempt to confirm his address found that a city phone directory from 1980-81 shows him residing in a less exclusive neighborhood, listing him as an “actor” &mdash a characterization that rankles him. His talent, he says, is as an “entertainment personality,” and he explains the phone book entry by noting at that time he had a budding niche hosting live events at discos. “I have always been able to talk,” he says.

Meanwhile, German newspapers from that decade chronicle a series of court proceedings and reported convictions for assault, burglary, fraud and theft. One case involved an allegation by von Anhalt’s insurance company that he tried to get paid twice for losses from a fire at one of his saunas. In another, a 16-year-old boy testified in April 1982 that von Anhalt paid him to steal a white leather jacket, six crocodile belts, a walking cane and two shaving brushes from a department store. Von Anhalt says he’s guilty merely of purchasing the teenager’s fenced goods. Generally when confronted with evidence of his criminal record, he waves it away as long-ago misunderstandings.

With his newly purchased title, von Anhalt got into the nobility trade himself. He sold his name, via brief sham marriages and his own adoption of five adult sons, who paid him for the privilege. He also hawked dozens of knighthoods for between $50,000 and $100,000. All told, according to von Anhalt, he made more than $10 million.

In 1979, von Anhalt became a real head of state &mdash just not for a real country. He was named Prince Regent of the Principality of Sealand , a micronation established by tax dodgers in 1967 on a World War II-era anti-aircraft platform off the coast of England. His princely duties mostly included selling diplomatic passports, of which he would take a cut. Von Anhalt insists this work was aboveboard, but nevertheless quit after Germany tightened financial regulations in 1983. “I didn’t want to get in trouble,” he explains. Today, the principality’s website offers its own titles for sale. A dukeship currently goes for $734.99.

These days, Von Anhalt complains of his ancestral name’s devaluation. One of his adopted sons, formerly known as Marcus Eberhardt , leveraged the title in service of expanding his German chain of brothels. “I didn’t like that but I couldn’t get out of [the deal] anymore,” he says.

“Everything happened in this room,” von Anhalt announces in the breakfast annex of his estate, piled high with yellowing copies of Hello!, Bild and other publications that covered his exploits with Gabor . As he lovingly flips through their tabloid journey, he conjures the day in 1986 when her entourage determined that the pair would soon be hitched. “The room was full of people &mdash her lawyer, her manager. All of a sudden Phil Paladino , the press agent, came to me and said: ‘We’ve decided you’ll marry on the 14th of August.’ I thought, ‘That’s Hollywood.’ “

Von Anhalt’s charm offensive had won over Gabor and her team. Still, her mother, Jolie, was a holdout. The morning of the wedding, Jolie’s housekeeper called from Palm Springs, explaining that Jolie had suffered a heart attack and Gabor was needed at the hospital. Her daughter shrugged and went on with the show. “By the afternoon, we received another call,” von Anhalt recalls, amused. “Everything was fine.”

He’d finally found his ideal life partner. Their marriage certificate lists the groom’s paper parents and the bride’s fictitious age. She’d lopped off 13 years.

Plenty of jet-setting ensued. In Manhattan, Gabor invariably protested over her suite at the Plaza Hotel. (“That’s when I met Trump,” who then owned the property, von Anhalt says they became casual acquaintances, occasionally crossing paths in Palm Beach, Florida.) On red carpets across the world, she’d swan with him by her side, yet once inside, she’d wilt. (“The events were boring to her.”) There were more local pleasures, too, like washing their seven dogs, and early bird dinners at Nate ‘n Al &mdash where they’d kibitz with such regulars as Milton Berle and Larry King.

Marriage meant abiding Gabor’s flaws, including her tendency to underscore her point in an argument by throwing plates, and cleaning up her messes. Rodeo Drive fashion boutique Giorgio “would send three dresses for Zsa Zsa to wear for an event. She’d select one and then on Monday they’d all go back: ‘Return it, I don’t like it!’ she’d say. The woman picking them up would say, ‘Wait a minute, there’s some makeup on this dress!’ I’d be left to argue.”

Most of her idiosyncrasies, however, he simply found endearing, like her awards-show balloting approach, based on appearance and camaraderie, not skill (perhaps unshocking from an actress whose most notable professional honor was a Special Golden Globe in 1958 for the since-discontinued distinction of Most Glamorous.)

Von Anhalt also consoled his wife over what remained for decades her greatest disappointment. She and sisters Eva and Magda (along with mom, the Kardashians of their day), had finally convinced their reluctant father to move to Los Angeles from Budapest (he and Jolie had previously separated), but when he discovered that she’d converted from Judaism to Catholicism to marry Conrad Hilton, he moved back. “She kept his cane,” he says. “It was by her bed when she died.”

Von Anhalt has far less affection toward his parents, who cut him off. A few years after his departure from Wallhausen , he returned to his home on Christmas Eve, only to have his mother turn him away at the door. “She said she didn’t want a fight with my father,” von Anhalt says. “I didn’t have enough money to go to a hotel. I slept on the street for a week. It was very cold.” His reaction to the incident was a passion for the holiday season.

In 1995, when von Anhalt and Gabor couldn’t travel on their annual trip to Europe, he surprised her with 30 tons of snow on their property. “She was crying,” he says, his eyes misting. “I said, ‘If we can’t go to the snow, the snow has to come to us.’ “

Another thing he understood about Gabor was the secret to staying in his wife’s favor. “Those other guys,” von Anhalt says of the eight husbands who preceded him, “when there was a fight, they’d leave. Then they’d try to apologize with a present. I didn’t do that. We always talked it out on the spot.” He adds, impishly: “She loved to fight. She wanted to show she’s the boss. I always knew to give in.”

The couple’s power dynamic inverted when Gabor’s health began its long decline after she was seriously injured in a 2002 car accident. Soon she’d become further impaired by a stroke. Von Anhalt portrays the 14-year stretch until her death at 99 as one of selfless around-the-clock spousal caregiving, an emotionally depleting journey unappreciated and misunderstood by all but perhaps the two nurses who helped care for her during daytime hours.

Aside from lunches at Caffe Roma in Beverly Hills and daily visits to his West Hollywood gym, he contends he was at his wife’s side, in a leather office chair beside the state-of-the-art hospital bed he’d installed in the massive master bedroom. There, day after day, even when she lost her ability to speak and could only signal with a point of her finger or a squeeze of his hand, they would watch hours of TMZ (“She still wanted to know the Hollywood gossip”) and Days of Our Lives (“So boring, but she loved it”).

The best entertainment of all, however, would forever be anything featuring Gabor , whether a film or talk show appearance. Von Anhalt, aware of her limited grasp of technology, enacted again and again what he felt to be one of his sweetest cons. He’d play a tape from her personal video archive and pretend he’d discovered it by flipping through channels: “‘Jesus! They’re still showing it!’ Lili . Moulin Rouge. Phil Donahue. She’d smile.”

Gabor’s sole child, Francesca Hilton, a troubled actress/photographer/comedienne whom her mother financially supported, was von Anhalt’s most persistent critic. She took any opportunity to lance him as a foolish liar. (When the Berlin Wall fell, she goosed him about whether the family could now tour his long-claimed East German castles, forcing him to concede he’d embellished.) She also relentlessly, openly challenged his sexuality, even working it into the stand-up routine she sometimes performed at The Comedy Store: “My mother, Zsa Zsa Gabor , always wanted to be a princess, so she married a queen.”

Von Anhalt has long had a reputation in West Hollywood for his purported cruising. “Ask any queen at his gym in those showers or at the ‘gay Starbucks’ on Santa Monica Boulevard,” says local interior designer Bobby Trendy, a von Anhalt acquaintance who still finds it laughable that von Anhalt once announced at a press conference that he might’ve sired the daughter of the late queer glamour icon Anna Nicole Smith, a close friend of Trendy’s. This wasn’t the first time von Anhalt appears to have attempted to burnish his hetero credentials by telling the press he’d impregnated a sex symbol: In 1986, he said he slept with Csilla Molnar, a former Miss Hungary, who died of a lidocaine overdose soon after winning the crown. Von Anhalt claimed it was because he refused to marry her. (He has no biological children but tells THR he intends to soon offer $1 million to a woman willing to produce his heir.)

While von Anhalt will offer an unsolicited anecdote about how Merv Griffin, then the constant companion of Eva Gabor , once made a fruitless pass at him when they were alone at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes (“He said, ‘It doesn’t cost anything to try!’ “) and will eagerly show off a pair of underwear Matt Damon gifted him from the 2013 HBO Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra &mdash which shot at the house while Zsa Zsa Gabor was confined in ill health down the hall &mdash he refuses to directly engage on the subject.

“I never talk about my sexual life,” he says. “For 35 years, I’ve been going to that gym in West Hollywood. I get along with everybody. I do my stuff. I go to the sauna. Things happen. Who cares? I don’t.” Still, he adds pointedly of Gabor , “my wife was woman enough to know what her husband was doing and, believe me, she wouldn’t have accepted a gay guy in her bed.”

When her mother became frail, Hilton’s disapproval of von Anhalt grew over what she contended were Gabor’s missed mortgage payments, conspicuous isolation and unacceptable sedation. He chalks up the dissent to jealousy and insists that his actions, often viewed as self-serving stunts, were meant as upbeat and affirming. He points, for instance, to the headline-grabbing 25th anniversary billboard he paid $68,000 for on Sunset Boulevard, which featured Gabor in a tiara and him in House of Saxony finery. “Wasn’t that the best present you could give somebody who’s stuck in bed?” he plaintively asks. “I knew she loved billboards. I knew she’d see it on television. Then, there it is: ‘You’re back in the game.’ She never saw something like that. She giggled.” He shakes his head at his thoughtfulness being so unappreciated. “There was no reason to bad-mouth me for it.”

Hilton had other concerns, too, most notably that Gabor required a leg amputation as a result of an infection that’d grown from an inch to a foot in length due to, Hilton believed, negligence. “Who gets gangrene in Bel Air in the millennium, anyway?” says Ed Lozzi , Hilton’s then-publicist. A high-profile battle resulted in a court-appointed conservatorship of Gabor . Hilton died of a heart attack in 2015 at age 67, months after the legal saga ended. “It was brought on by total stress,” says Lozzi . “Francesca was a mess toward the end. I believe there’s nobody else more responsible for her death than [von Anhalt].”


Gabor would never know that her daughter predeceased her. “I didn’t want to upset my wife, because she loved Francesca,” says von Anhalt. “She would have gone out right away, exactly like [her friend] Debbie Reynolds,” who passed away a day after she learned of the death of her own daughter, Carrie Fisher. “When I heard about Debbie, I was almost in tears. I thought, ‘I did the right thing not telling Zsa Zsa .’ “

Hilton was hardly von Anhalt’s only critic. Richard Heard, a close pal of Gabor’s since the early 1980s who attested he regularly spoke to her several times a day, asserted in an affidavit that not only did von Anhalt misappropriate her finances but “Frederic disconnected or removed” Gabor’s private and household phone lines that “served as her only method of communication with her friends and the outside world.”

Heard’s affidavit, from Hilton’s conservatorship case, also recalls a scene from the mid-1990s , when Gabor was said to have finally been made aware of a decade-old New York Post article published on the eve of their wedding that referred to her husband as “king of the con men,” outlined his criminal record and questioned his lineage. By Heard’s recollection, Gabor cried when she read it, then confronted her husband “in a rage I had never seen before.”

Von Anhalt asserts that it’s absurd to suggest that the press-savvy Gabor , with her phalanx of Hollywood courtiers, wouldn’t have been made aware of the Post story at the time of publication. “We’d been together for several years before we were married,” he reasons. “She knew about everything: She read the papers. She got a thousand calls about me. I was bad-mouthed left and right. I remember once, she said into the phone: ‘Well, he didn’t kill anyone, did he?’ That was it! End of conversation.”

His body clock still on the caregiving night shift, von Anhalt remains nocturnal, walking the streets of Bel Air past midnight, planning his next act: a second quixotic run for California governor, following a 2010 bid, that was cut short by Gabor’s ill health. His Caffe Roma buddy and fellow emigre Arnold Schwarzenegger inspired him. A Trump fan, von Anhalt intends to run as an independent under the slogan “Make America Livable Again” on a staunchly pro-development platform that he expects will trickle down to the exploding homeless population.

Returning to the giant house in the small hours, he’ll head to his computer, scrolling through clips of his wife on YouTube. “If I watch one, I have to watch 10,” he says. “It holds me for hours. The time goes fast.” He’s looking forward to the slick new Century City condo tower he soon expects to downsize into after the “headache” of so many years in the Bel Air property (“I want to live with one key”). To that end, he’s putting hundreds of Gabor’s items up for auction, more than 400 at last count, many of which are on display in the home in preparation for visiting bidders. “I feel guilty that I’m giving away too much,” he says. “I still see [her possessions] each day when I go about the house. They taunt me.”

Mainly, though, he’s wrestling with what won’t be on offer, the “private stuff,” hundreds of videotapes (his wife on, say, safari with her sixth husband, Mattel executive Jack Ryan) and correspondence (a lustful letter from Richard Nixon). “I take my time [going through them], I do it slow,” he says. “I don’t know if I should throw it away, if I should keep it. I always put it back in the drawers. It’s awful.”

Some take a jaundiced view of the von Anhalt-Gabor union. “I think it was an arrangement of mutual convenience,” says James M. Pembroke, the former head of security for Gabor , who lived on her property when she began seeing von Anhalt. “She knew he was gay. Everyone around them knew it was a joke, that he wasn’t a prince. But she was also difficult and just happy, at that age, to find someone who would be with her, who she could use as a prop.”

Others interpret the same perceived truths with more sympathy. “I’ve often said that if my husband were to predecease me, I’d probably marry a wonderful gay friend who I could cuddle with, watch movies, talk and ‘you do your thing and I’ll do mine,’ ” reasons actress Ruta Lee, who visited Gabor regularly in her final years with mutual friend Alex Trebek . “I can’t help but think that was Zsa Zsa’s plot. She found a handsome man who adored her, and I think took extremely good care of her in the end.”

At their wedding, after they exchanged vows, Gabor addressed the couple’s detractors, perhaps some even in the room, in a speech: “I don’t give a damn and he doesn’t give a damn about what people say.”

Von Anhalt still doesn’t give a damn about what people say. “We really loved each other,” he says. “Yeah, we made noise. That’s what people do. It comes with the business.” He doesn’t specify whether he means the business of Hollywood or of marriage. Unambiguous is his appreciation for the country that enabled his particular brand of entrepreneurship. “Here you can blindfold with money, with looks, with power,” says von Anhalt. “People fall for it. In Europe, they hold you at a distance. In America, they give you a chance, they take you for what you are. There’s so much more bluff in America.”

This story first appeared in the March 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Watch the video: Celebrities grieve outside EVA GABOR funeral