Eva Gabor (11th February 1919 – 4th July 1995)
Zsa Zsa Gabor (born 6th February 1917)
Three generations of Gabors gather in the Hotel Sacher to take a portrait in a rare moment of family togetherness, Vienna, Austria, circa 1955. Left to right: (top row) Magda (1919 - 1997), 'Mama' Jolie (1894 - 1997) and Eva Gabor; (bottom row) Zsa Zsa and Papa (Vilmos) Gabor and Francesca Hilton, age 8, Zsa Zsa's daughter by hotel magnate Conrad Hilton. Francesca is the only child to result from the combined 20 marriages of the three Gabor sisters.
From Vanity Fair:
Ask about the Gabor sisters and most people - most people over 40, that is - will conjure a handful of significant facts:Faaabulous, dahlink!
Magda. Her name was Magda. She was the trio’s Marvin Bush, or, more aptly, its Kate Jackson - brainy, less flashy, and, some claim, the real beauty.
- They called everyone “dahling” (or, as it is sometimes denoted in efforts to capture their luxuriant Hungarian accents, “dahlink”).
- They liked diamonds and got married a lot.
- Zsa Zsa went to jail for slapping a Beverly Hills police officer.
- Eva was the one on Green Acres.
- And wasn’t there a third sister whose name was...Zeppo?
There is so much more to say. A coffee-table book on the subject, Gaborabilia, by Anthony Turtu and Donald F. Reuter, may even herald a revival. But before we can give the Gabors - daughters of glittering pre-war Budapest - their proper due as pioneering feminists and founding mothers of postmodern American celebrity, it must be acknowledged that, like the origin of life or the nature of evil, they remain in many senses unfathomable. Their birth dates, for instance. The truth may still be locked in some dusty Magyar hall of records - and who has the energy for that?
Zsa Zsa, the last surviving sister, has offered only suspect testimony on the matter. In 1982, “tired unto tears of having her age reported as being anywhere from 49 to 63,” as The New York Times put it, she made a show of releasing a copy of her birth certificate, which had supposedly been smuggled out of what was then Communist Hungary and which gave her birth date as 6th February 1928. But, as Peter H. Brown points out in his 1985 book Such Devoted Sisters: Those Fabulous Gabors, as definitive a text as we are likely to have on the subject: “to accept the ‘1928 theory’ creates laughable circumstances. It would mean that she was married for the first time at about eight and that she was about fourteen when she wed Conrad Hilton,” the 54-year-old hotel-chain founder who became her second husband in 1942. When this was pointed out to her, Zsa Zsa explained, somewhat gallantly (not wanting to implicate anyone in pederasty), “Conrad made me promise to never, never reveal my true age. And I haven’t.”
But who’s counting? As Zsa Zsa herself once wrote, “What woman is ever 50 years old?” That is not an idle question, for age - even more than opposing divorce counsel - was the Gabors’ one genuine enemy, the only predator they truly feared. But their way was not to fret over accumulating years like some commonplace cow of a dieter stepping gingerly onto a scale - at least not in public. No, the Gabor way was to face the music sideways, to celebrate your birthday at the Stork Club posing for photographers between your two sisters, a bowling-ball rack’s worth of décolletage looming pendulously over a cake decorated with candles in the shape of a question mark.
“I used to say that the only way you could tell the true age of a Gabor was by the rings around their gums,” says Cindy Adams, the gossip columnist who has known the family for four decades. “It was all revisionist history. Were they blonde? No. Did they have those noses? No. But you knew it. That was the difference. You weren’t looking for the truth. You knew there was none.”