Zsa Zsa Gabor
Fantasztik rests in peace
Part One: A Darling Before 'Daaahling'
My mother used to say that she knew the Gabors so long ago that she knew them when they were Jewish.
-Tom Teichholz, 'JewishJournal.com, 4/17/03
Cousin to the late Tom Lantos's wife, Annette Tilleman (he was the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in the U.S. Congress), she began as a beauty pageant winner, and European film player. Born into the middle to upper classes of Budapest, her family was emblematic of the mindset that 'it can't happen here' whilst witnessing the horror inflicted by the Nazis upon the Polish Jews. As Teicholz poignantly points out, 'they would face the world and their Jewishness on their own terms, not Hitler's.'
Refugees, then, with the ambition and necessary charm to conquer a new world. And as for that old world left behind, these restless, gifted aliens were complimented by way of Nobel winning Italian-American Enrico Fermi's left hand, when replying to the question of off-world aliens: "The are here...and the are called Hungarians."
Part Two: Zsa Zsa Vavoom
We now summon the memory of another stellar emigre to this continent, Einstein his name; his general theory of relativity has both given us perhaps the most off-handed phrase in any language-'everything is relative'-and the best take on this whole space/time universe we seem to inhabit. Employing that theory throughout this piece, I stretch the theory in a worthy cause: time travel, which it, theoretically, permits, sort of.
The time is the early period of Tonight Show; Johnny is donning his Nehru jacket, looking very dapper, the American James Bond and, yet, there he is, we are thanks to time travel, and it's like he and we are latter day Icarus, a bit too close to the Sun, that is Zsa Zsa. Let's listen:
Johnny: 'Oh, I see you've brought a...friend.'
Zsa Zsa: 'Yes, dahling, do you want to pet my pussy?'
Johnny: 'Sure, I'd love to, but you're gonna have to move that darn cat."
Apocryphal, at best; we'll never know, as the tapes for that era have been erased (at best, a tin ear for future box set marketing, not to mention cat envy).
We are, perhaps, in a parallel universe, where it did take place; that's what quantum physics currently subscribes to: all possibilities can be coexistent in the multi-verse. We'll move on, to another typical exchange which might just be 'out there'.
Johnny: 'Zsa Zsa, um, (index finger vertical on pursed lips) most folks out there probably don't know that you're Jewish."
Zsa Zsaz: 'Yes, dahling, ve vere Jewish before it vas...fashionable...'
And this stop in our time travels is one of many, only mentioned/pictured here: 'Gilligan's Island', many, many films, including Orson Wells's now appreciated (if not for her role) 'Touch of Evil'. But, not 'Green Acres', that was Eva - remember Teicholz's important note about the family's business sense, as a whole.
Back to the future, and inevitable denouement.
Part Three: Of Empires, Past, Present, Future or, Move Over Princess Leia
Every spectacular story, both true and otherwise, must come to a close. It's the rules, see Einstein's theories for the details, especially the Second Law of Thermodynamics and entropy, which brings us to that third act of our epoch-spanning player.
While the empire in which she dwelt long-ago known as Austro-Hungarian, the North American one with her Prinz Anholt, or that less describable one she now dwells are arguably as 'far, far away ' or fanciful as George Lucas's, Zsa Zsa's taken name is just as glamorous as his reigning princess, as is her heritage, her memory, as well, forever entwined with Hollywood and its centrality in our fantasy lives. She cohabited in those physical and mythical places, at once, so powerful was the Magyarphilia (Tom Teicholz's wonderful term for the influence of Hungarians there, and, therefore, in our minds's cinemascopic vistas) that her star will shine long after the hers, and theirs, on Hollywood Boulevard's sidewalks have turned to (star)dust. That long-ago Austro-Hungarian Empire, which gave us her peers, now gone, and the nonpareil Zsa Zsa, aka Sari Gabor, joining them: Curtiz, Korda, Molnar, Roza, Muni, Wilder, Lubitsch, not to mention Lugosi, her polar opposite in so many ways only her rivals would dispute, especially when it comes to dentifrices.
As they say in her native Budapest, without any language barrier, body or spoken: "Fantasztik!"
Rest in Peace - like you, we are Sari - at least in our fantasies (as the commoners all cried in that film you weren't in, 'I'm Spartacus!'), and we'll look for you in a, then, even more bejeweled night sky when you return to your 'glitzy' Galician empire, far, far away.