How Zsa Zsa and the Gabor Girls Paved the Way for Today's Starlets

Zsa Zsa and the Gabor girls paved the way for today's starlets.

Aug. 17, 2010 — -- Before Paris and Nicky, before the Kardashian clan, three sisters wrote the book on how to turn socialite status into legitimate stardom (sans sex tape):

Zsa Zsa, Magda and Eva Gabor.

They married a motley crew of men, they hammed it up on game shows, they slapped cops. Had they had their heydey in the age of TMZ, they would have attracted a bigger pack of paparazzi than Lindsay Lohan.

With Zsa Zsa out of a Los Angeles hospital and at her Bel Air, California home, where her publicist said she wants to spend her final days, the sun may be setting on the last living member of the Hungarian-American trio. But the legacy they established continues to burn brightly: without the Gabors, well-born beauties wouldn't enjoy the 15-plus minutes of fame they do today.

Below, five rules the Gabors wrote on how to parlay prettiness into permanent star-status.

1. Get Married, a Lot

Think today's stars fall in and out of love with abandon? They're pratically convent-worthy compared to Zsa Zsa. She's been married a mind-boggling nine times -- seven of those ended in divorce, one was annulled. Many of them, like her current husband, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, and hubby No. 2, Hilton hotels founder Conrad Hilton (she really was destined to inspire his great granddaughters), came from money. Gabor once famously quipped, "I want a man who is kind and understanding. Is that too much to ask of a millionaire?"

The marrying streak ran in the family. Middle sister Magda tied the knot six times -- once to an ex-husband of Zsa Zsa's, British actor George Sanders. Eva, the youngest of Gabor girls, took five trips down the aisle.

2. Lock Down at Least One Outlandish Husband

Having a partner capable of scoring his own press takes pressure off a socialite/wannabe star. Zsa Zsa's husband von Anhalt had been married six times before he settled down with her in 1986. But according to him, their love couldn't curb his libido: in 2007, he claimed to have had a decade-long affair with the late Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith and declared that he have been be the father of her baby daughter. Paternity tests later proved him wrong.

That same year, police found von Anhalt naked in the back seat of his Rolls Royce Phantom after he claimed three women mugged him at gunpoint and made off with jewelery, his car keys, $1,800 and, of course, his clothes.

Age hasn't dulled the man. In Feburary of this year, the 65-year-old von Anhalt threw his hat into the ring of the California governor's race. On his agenda: legalizing marijuana and prostitution, lifting the import ban on Cuban cigars, then taxing all three.

3. Appear As Often as Possible

Today's starlets make sure the public sees them by swarming red carpets, whether for an Oscar-worthy movie premiere or the opening of a Taco Bell. Zsa Zsa and Eva Gabor scored household-name status by appearing in dozens of movies, TV shows, and plays. They didn't discriminate: Zsa Zsa went highbrow with 1952's Oscar-nominated "Moulin Rouge," lowbrow with 1988's "Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special."

Eva employed her aristocratic upbringing to play Lisa Douglas, a New York City socialite turned country bumpkin, in "Green Acres" from 1965 to 1971. But all stuffiness got pushed to the side when she served as a panelist on the rowdy, bawdy game show "Match Game," on which she once gushed about how touching the breasts of her good friend Dolly Parton made her "feel like a boy."

4. Turn Legal Lemons Into Career Lemonade

When it comes to using scandal to boost star power, Zsa Zsa set the bar. In 1989, she was accused of slapping a Beverly Hills police officer who stopped her for a traffic violation. She claimed he deserved the slap because he hurled obscenities at her, but no matter: she was found guilty of assault and sentenced to three days in jail.

Other actresses might have crawled away from Hollywood, tail between their tanned, toned legs. Not Zsa Zsa. She made good of the incident by mocking it in a variety of movie and TV cameos, including "The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear," "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."

5. Come in Pairs, or Better Yet, Threes

True, this wasn't something Zsa Zsa, Magda or Eva could control. But the Gabor gang scored more press than they might have individually because there were three sets of hook ups, break ups and appearances to chronicle. Their modern-day equivalent: Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian, who maintain an ironclad grip on tabloid headlines week after week. Of course, if the Gabors were at the top of their game today, Kim K. and co. might not stand a chance.