Zsa Zsa Gabor’s death may have been overshadowed by George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds deaths, but the first star famous for being famous went out in the style she had grown accustomed to most of her life.
Zsa Zsa Gabor was remembered Friday during a funeral Mass for being the epitome of Hollywood glamour, an elegant and attention-seeking actress who paved the way for future generations of celebrities.
Around 100 mourners gathered Friday at the picturesque Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills to pay respects to Gabor, who died Dec. 18 from a heart attack at age 99.
Elaborate floral arrangements flanked the altar, where a painting Gabor made of one of her horses and a photo of Hungarian-American actress were displayed, emblazoned with the words, “Farewell My Love.”
Gabor’s husband, Frederic von Anhalt, gave a 40-minute eulogy that focused on Gabor’s thirst for the limelight.
“I want to remember the way she walked the red carpet,” von Anhalt said. “She loved it so much. Her life was only red carpet, nothing else.” He said Gabor would often duck out of events after walking the red carpet because that was the only element she was interested in.
He also recounted his wife’s 1989 arrest and conviction after slapping a Beverly Hills police officer, saying Gabor turned the incident into a publicity device and a template for future generations of troubled starlets.
He said his wife’s name will live on forever, in part thanks to her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“She will never be forgotten because she has her Hollywood star,” von Anhalt said. “It will always be Zsa Zsa Gabor. It will never end.”
During his eulogy, von Anhalt pulled a magazine out of a Louis Vuitton dog bag and spoke about the first cover story featuring them as a couple, and also displayed what he said was her favorite pink pillow from Munich.
At the end of the eulogy, he took a gold box containing Gabor’s ashes and placed them inside the bag to take them to a private ceremony at the nearby Westwood Village Park Memorial Cemetery. It is the final resting place of many stars, including Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, Roy Orbison and Gabor’s sister, Eva. Von Anhalt said after the service that Gabor won’t be interred there, but rather with her father in Budapest.
He interrupted the closing procession and singing of “May Choirs of Angels” to draw mourners’ attention to a painting his wife made of one of her horses.
A priest contrasted Gabor’s public persona with her private life. “She epitomized and personified Hollywood glamour,” Father Edward Benioff said. “She could write. She could act. She had many, many talents.”
He said Gabor, who was known for conspicuously flaunting her wealth, also quietly gave to numerous charities including those supporting the homeless and animals. “What a lot of people don’t about is Zsa Zsa had a very sensitive side, a very compassionate side,” Benioff said.
Long before reality television minted stars for their behavior, Gabor was famous for being famous, despite appearing in several movies including “Moulin Rouge” and Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil.”
In the 1940s Gabor began her ascent from beauty queen to millionaire’s wife to minor television personality to minor film actress to major public character. Decked out in diamonds and lavish clothes, Zsa Zsa often joked about the droll burdens of wealth and her ability to attract men.
She and her family, including sisters Eva and Magda, emigrated to America around World War II and she married Conrad Hilton in 1942. They had one child together, Francesca, who died last year.
Gabor married nine times, although one shipboard ceremony was quickly annulled and was of questionable legality. She married von Anhalt in 1986, who along with a team of nurses cared for her in their Bel Air home in recent years. Von Anhalt continued to throw her lavish birthday celebrations even after she could no longer attend, and reported her maladies dutifully to the media.
Von Anhalt urged mourners to remember Gabor for her glamorous days.
“Keep her in your heart, the way she was,” he said. “The way she was in Hollywood.”