Remembering Zsa Zsa

Ross Becker

Zsa Zsa Gabor is back in the hospital. There are reports that this time she won't go back home to her Bel Air mansion. She's in bad shape. She may not make it.

It occurred to me today that many of you who spend your days on the Internet may not even know who she is. She was a “thing” on the big screen and small TV screen long before the World Wide Web screen was even built. But she is a classic. Someone described her today as the Paris Hilton of her time.

I met Zsa Zsa. I have been at her home. I interviewed her after her famous cop-slapping trial. On June 14, 1980 Zsa Zsa was stopped for a traffic violation while driving her Rolls Royce in Beverly Hills. Officer Paul Kramer was doing his job, but Zsa Zsa was upset and she ended up slapping Officer Kramer in the face. Well, he sat her on the curb in handcuffs and she was in trouble. She claimed he insulted her with obscenities.

The trial was a fiasco. Many of my colleagues marveled at the “show” that Zsa Zsa put on each morning as she arrived at the courthouse, dressed to the “t” with her entourage. She was smiling and waving and we all wanted to hear her trademark “Hello Darling” in her Hungarian accent. On the witness stand, she told the story of how she was embarrassed that day but she had us all laughing when she tried to explain that the she felt a bit flattered because “the young man with the badge who roughed me up certainly was handsome.” Zsa Zsa always had an eye for men; she has been married nine times. She was found guilty of assault and was sentenced to 3 days in jail. She paid her debt to society.

After she was released, I was invited to her mansion to have her tell her story. Due to her high number of divorces, she once claimed that she was a good housekeeper because every time she divorced, she kept the house. I can tell you she needed a real housekeeper. Zsa Zsa has several dogs. When she opened the door there seemed to be poodles, poodle hair and poodle droppings everywhere. It was sad, really. We were afraid to sit down. We again discovered there is a difference between the public view and the private view.

The interview was predictable. She still believed the nice, handsome policeman was picking on her. She believed the judge was siding with the cops. But, she did her time and she wanted to move on. It was another chapter in the strange story of a girl who came to the U.S. from Europe just to sing and dance. Instead she became a Hollywood icon.

Every generation has its Zsa Zsa. But, she represented class and royalty and poise to a younger generation, not drugs and panty-less joyrides and a party girl life. Today it's Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan who are the role models.

Zsa Zsa's encore in Hollywood and in life is coming to an end. She is in her early 90's. But, she has made us smile and laugh on and off the screen, big or small. I am glad I had a chance to meet her.

Categories: Becker’s Digital Notebook