Born on February 6, 1917 in Hungary, Zsa Zsa Gabor seemed destined for glamour. At just 19, she won Miss Hungary of 1936. With her sisters—Eva and Magda, who were also famous actresses—she fled to the United States, escaping war-torn Europe as a Jewish family, to begin the life of luxury they’ve all since become known for. This included a wealth of experiences on-screen, acting for directors like John Huston and Mervyn LeRoy, and off.
Married a total of nine times—to famed hotelier Conrad Hilton as well as oil magnates, lawyers, and diplomats—Zsa Zsa became known for her glamour girl persona. “Dahling, these are just my working diamonds,” she’d say of her jewelry in her still crisp Hungarian accent, not to mention her famous quips when it came marriage: “A girl must marry for love, and keep on marrying until she finds it,” and “I always said marriage should be a 50-50 proposition. He should be at least 50 years old, and have at least million.” Her persona became so iconic, in fact, that she would often make appearances just as herself, later writing books like 1970’s How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man, for which she appeared on the cover decked out in diamonds, pearls, and feathers.
Often cloaked in jewels and furs, Gabor also brought this opulence into the home she purchased at 1001 Bel Air Road in Los Angeles, California. Built in 1955, the residence initially belonged to eccentric producer and director Howard Hughes, but Gabor acquired the house in 1973. She would live there with husband eight and, eventually, husband nine. Nestled on a hilltop and covering one acre, the nearly 9,000-square-foot estate featured a total of 28 rooms, with six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a pool with a brick patio and red-carpeted stairway to an upstairs outdoor patio, and a closet 30 feet long, 14 feet high, and 12 feet deep, that held some 5,000 garments. A painting of the actress in a raspberry gown hung in the main living space. Designed in a French Regency style, the exterior of the home was mustard yellow.
Gabor lived in the home–rumored to have been previously owned by Elvis Presley–for over 40 years until her death in 2016 at the age of 99. In that time, she reportedly hosted parties–perhaps in the mansion’s separate party room, which also featured its own bar, guest bedroom, and powder room–welcoming the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, and even Queen Elizabeth II. Gabor also played host to American presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan (Gabor was an accomplished equestrian and the latter in particular gifted her a saddle she kept until her death).
The starlet decorated the mansion with elaborate sculptures and antiques, not to mention parquet floors, gilded pianos and sconces, chandeliers, retracting picture windows, walls of mirrors, and white lion statues to greet you at the entrance. The home was so lavish, in fact, that it was actually used to stand in as Liberace’s house in HBO’s 2013 biopic of the singer, Behind the Candelabra, and also appeared in Ben Affleck’s 2012 film Argo.
Originally, when the mansion was purchased from Gabor, there were plans to redevelop it, but instead it re-entered the market at a cool .8 million dollars. As Zsa Zsa herself would say, “There’s no better money to spend than your own.”END
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