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Zsa Zsa, first US star famous for being famous, dead at 99

Zsa Zsa Gabor, the Hungarian-born Hollywood siren perhaps better known for her love life than her movie credits, died on December 18. She was 99.

Her husband, Frederic von Anhalt said the actress passed away at home after suffering a heart attack, surrounded by friends and family.

The pair wed in 1986, making their union by far the longest of her nine marriages.

Gabor, who in her heyday embodied the film industry’s platinum-blonde ideal, was a voluptuous former beauty queen with a penchant for gowns.

Her resume includes a long list of film roles in such hit movies as Moulin Rouge, Lili and Arrivederci Baby!

But the actress was perhaps more famous for her romances as her triumphs on the silver screen.

Like her famous great-granddaughter by marriage, Paris Hilton, Gabor was among the first celebrities to be famous primarily for her celebrity.

Her thick Hungarian accent was much parodied, especially her penchant for calling everyone she met “darling” – or “dahlink” as she pronounced it. It became her unique signature.

“I call everyone ‘dahlink’ because I can’t remember their names,” she once said.

Fellow actress Barbara Eden, star of 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, paid tribute to the star.

“Rest in peace Zsa Zsa Gabor. She and her sisters were lovely ladies who were always fun and delightful to be around,” Eden wrote on Twitter.

Born in Hungary on February 6, 1917, as Sari Gabor, Zsa Zsa was one of a trio of sisters.

Her sisters were Magda, and Hollywood star Eva Gabor, who achieved greater acting success in the United States than her sister, thanks to her role in the 1960s hit television series Green Acres.

Zsa Zsa also came to be known for her love of diamonds and frequently was photographed dripping in the sparkling gems.

During her many marriages and affairs that made her a fixture in America’s gossip magazines, she had just one child – a daughter, Francesca, with hotel magnate Conrad Hilton.

Francesca died early last year from a heart attack. She had been feuding with Gabor’s husband for years, who kept her away from her famous mother.

Zsa Zsa’s romantic history was a “Who’s Who” of Hollywood heartthrobs of her day. Her kiss-and-tell book detailed romances with screen legends including Sean Connery and Frank Sinatra.

Gabor was known to be picky, however, spurning the advances of US president John F Kennedy, Elvis Presley, film director John Huston and actor Henry Fonda, she said in her autobiography.

The loquacious actress was known for an endless stream of bons mots, mostly uttered on the talkshow circuit, about her favorite topics: love, romance and divorce. They included:

A man in love is incomplete until he has married. Then he’s finished.

Getting divorced just because you don’t love a man is almost as silly as getting married just because you do.

Husbands are like fires – they go out when unattended.

I never hated a man enough to give him diamonds back.

I’m a great housekeeper. I get divorced. I keep the house.

You never really know a man until you have divorced him.

Gabor, who had been in and out of hospital since a hip replacement operation in 2010, had several close brushes with death in recent years. She was read the last rites at one point more than six years ago.

A 2002 car accident left her partially paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. She also had a stroke in 2005, and one of her legs was partially amputated.

* Agence France-Presse

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