Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Zsa Zsa Gabor: A rare, unforgettable celebrity

She was a symbol, from the 1950s on, of European style and flair, of material and romantic extravagance.

You didn’t have to know exactly who she was to appreciate Zsa Zsa Gabor.

She belonged to a rare, hard-to-catalogue vintage of celebrity, not only the great-aunt of Paris Hilton, but a true ancestor of Hilton’s jet-set flamboyance.

For such a flashy member of the leisure class, she did plenty, appearing in a number of films, including Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil”; logging enough husbands to field a baseball team; and flaunting sex appeal, excess glamour and an exotic accent into her senior years.

But none of this fully accounts for the enduring recognition she enjoyed and cultivated. Maybe she just knew how to work it. Maybe it happened above and beyond her control. It certainly helped that she was in on the joke.

She was a symbol, from the 1950s on, of European style and flair, of material and romantic extravagance. She was rich in more ways than one. She was playful and outspoken. She was blessed with a ritzy, come-hither name: Zsaahhhh Zsaahhhh!

Some of the heavy lifting that helped sustain the Gabor brand was courtesy of Zsa Zsa’s lookalike sister Eva, who shared the Gabor pizazz. Eva’s star turn in the 1960s as a sitcom socialite on “Green Acres” has guaranteed her immortality in the pop-culture pantheon — and, by association, given Zsa Zsa status beyond her own accomplishments.

But Zsa Zsa could be funny, too.

In a TV commercial from 1963, a begowned, bejeweled Gabor extols the virtues of the Studebaker Lark, kittenishly calling this midlevel compact “so nice, so chic.”

The car featured newfangled disc brakes, and in her fractured English, Gabor purrs to the audience, “My friend says I would be in jail from coast to coast if I wouldn’t have them.”

In 1989, she hit the brakes and had a celebrated brush with the law while driving not a Lark, but her own Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible. She slapped the face of a Beverly Hills, California, police officer who had the effrontery to stop her for a traffic violation. The officer was rude, she testified at the trial where she was subsequently found guilty of assault.

Her arrest became just another sparkling career move. She spoofed the incident in “Naked Gun 2 1-2” and various other cameo appearances.

Dahling, the Zsa Zsa legend cannot die, even in a culture with short memories where attention-seekers jostle for camera time. She lives on, unchallenged, in the cultural ether. Meanwhile, it’s not hard to imagine her in heaven right now, tricked out with wings and a Blackglama mink, advising St. Peter that the Pearly Gates clash with her diamonds.

Frazier Moore, The Associated Press

Just Posted

‘Why not Abbotsford’: Mayor working to see pro hockey return to city

Henry Braun says he has tried continuously to bring a team back to the Abbotsford Centre

Man airlifted to hospital following mushroom farm stabbing

Abbotsford Police speaking with two men from the scene

Abbotsford man faces charges in Delta hit and run

Five men were injured in the June 2017 incident in Ladner

Motorcyclist slides under dump truck

Bike operator lucky to survive collision at Aldergrove intersection

Three new exhibits to open at The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford

Opening reception with the artists on Thursday, May 24

ACS Knights, MEI Eagles win big at FV Track Championships

Abbotsford athletes excel at last week’s event, look ahead to provincials later this month

Study recommends jurors receive more financial and psychological support

Federal justice committee calls for 11 policy changes to mitigate juror stress

Surrey RCMP issue warning after third sexual assault since Sunday

It is the third sexual assault reported this week in Surrey

Research needed on impact of microplastics on B.C. shellfish industry: study

SFU’s department of biological sciences recommends deeper look into shellfish ingesting microbeads

B.C. dad pens letter urging overhaul of youth health laws after son’s fatal overdose

The Infants Act currently states children under 19 years old may consent to medical treatment on own

Singh sides with B.C. in hornet’s nest of pipeline politics for the NDP

Singh had called for a more thorough environmental review process on the proposal

VIDEO: Campers leave big mess at rural Vancouver Island campsite

Vehicle parts, garbage, a mattress, lawn chairs, beer cans, and even fecal matter left in the area

VIDEO: B.C. woman gets up-close view of Royal wedding

Kelly Samra won a trip back to her home country to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle say ‘I do’

30 C in B.C., 30 cm of snow expected for eastern Canada

It might be hot in B.C., but the rest of Canada still dealing with cold

Most Read