Zsa Zsa has passed. The Queen is Dead.
I can’t say I followed Miss Gabor’s work, but there is a trace of her presence among the Ayn Rand Papers, on which I do work–and, in addition, an old memory from my days snaking-up canyon hillsides to homes in the Hollywood Hills, where I formerly worked as a waiter and cook.
In deference to the spirit of “age before beauty,” I’ll recount the older memory, a little story about Miss Gabor picked-up from a fellow waiter, whose name, unfortunately, I do not recall. The tale remains in my mind–one of the sort you heard and savored as luscious silliness or dismissed as urban mythology–either, in any case, the essence of Hollywood–and the kind of story we heard countless evenings, while sitting on milkcrates in our tuxes, eating a staff meal in a Beverly Hills alleyway or a Bel Air garage, usually after the client’s dessert was served and the coffee poured.
Miss Gabor was known for her wit and for making an entrance–or certainly for making herself present, which was the case on the day my waiter-comrade approached her Los Angeles home, arms full of party supplies.
As he told it: Walking up the front path, he encountered two silent, marble lions, which stood guard at Miss Gabor’s front door. As he passed the noble cats, his feet triggered an invisible beam, which cut across the steps leading to the entrance. In the dry, California air, about as far from the grasslands of East Africa as you can be, his motion triggered a prerecorded lion’s roar, which filled the garden path with a triumphant greeting, and then, without missing a beat, melted into Miss Gabor’s Hungarian-accented voice, purring: “Darrh-link”
Jeff Britting, a composer and author, is working on an opera based on Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun and a collection of Hollywood-themed short stories.
(The views expressed here are the author’s. He does not speak for any other person or organization.)