Wednesday, February 09, 2011


On February 6th, the unlikely happened: Zsa Zsa Gabor reached her 94th birthday. If you haven't been following the Paris Hilton of the geriatric set, Hollywood's original celebutard was counted out back in 2002 after a car crash, and in 2005 after suffering a stroke. She had the obit writers ready to roll after more surgery in 2007, and then hip replacement in the summer of 2010 (a procedure that killed Eddie Fisher). Complications from the surgery were so severe Zsa Zsa asked for last rites. She was in and out of danger, but back in the hospital in January of this year, ultimately requiring the amputation of her right leg above the knee.

Now she's home, and before anything else happens, it's time to give a little celebration of her life, rather than a eulogy and the typical Illfolks "obit with music."

For some of us, Zsa Zsa Gabor has always been a benign, sexy joke. Yes, she made a few movies that had or still have some critical or cult appeal. She was a hit in "Moulin Rouge," though her musical voice was dubbed by black opera singer Muriel Smith. Gabor was also in Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil," and the campy "Queen of Outer Space" among others. She showed a sense of humor on sitcoms, variety shows, and course as a guest villain on "Batman." Way before "bad girls" became the norm, there was Zsa Zsa, slapping a cop in 1989 during a traffic dispute. But she was best known for chattering on talk shows, mostly about the joys of sex, being rich, and marrying nine times, including George Sanders and Paris's grandfather Conrad Hilton. She's currently wed to some lunatic named Prince Frederic von Anhalt.

Back in her heyday, Gabor managed to get almost as much face-time in fan mags as her much more accomplished contemporaries such as Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot. She was name-checked by, among others, Spike Jones (in "Knock Knock," on the "Music America Hates Best" album), Allan Sherman (Joshua and the Battle of Jericho morphed into Zsa Zsa and a bottle of Geritol) and Dion and the Belmonts in "Donna the Prima Donna."

So what do we have now? Nothing much. Lindsay Lohan, the Kardashian idiots, and Paris Hilton are all very cheap and tawdry by comparison. None's come up with a quotable line, or have Gabor's cheerful panache. As slutty as Gabor may have been, you never realized it, because she did it with...class! Vocally, if you're desperate for the Zsa Zsa sound, you'll find it burbling from the gullet of Arriana Huffington. Arriana is not Hungarian, though, she's Greek, and her scandals have merely involved complaints of plagiarism for writing bios that copied material written by others. Though she followed Zsa Zsa's lead in marrying a millionaire mostly for his money (he turned out to be bisexual), Arriana will most likely never come close to Gabor's list of marriages and discards. Gabor was an original, which is why, 20 years after she bitch-slapped a cop and 40 years after she could be called a MILF, people are saddened by her illnesses and her decline gets almost as much news as the latest Lindsay Lohan court appearance.

So while most end up with "the girl next door," here's a salute to the one and only (all right, it's time to sneak in a mention of wonderful sister Eva), ZSA ZSA GABOR….sing it, Dion:

"I remember the nights we dated,always acting sophisticated,
Talking about high society,
Then she tried to make a fool out of me...
She always wears charms, diamonds, pearls galore,
She buys them at the 5 & 10 cents store.
She wants to be just like Zsa Zsa Gabor,
Even though she's the girl next door…"

Dion mispronounced Gabor's name as "Za Za" in the original single, but below you get a 2009 bootleg from a Connecticut concert, in which he corrects it to "Zsa Zsa…"

Hear the 2009 live boot:

DONNA The PRIMA DONNA - who wanted to be just like Zsa Zsa Gabor.

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