Friday, December 04, 2009

Life with Zsa Zsa, Or the Importance of Closet Space


Joy oh joy. The Siren has found her copy of George Sanders' Memoirs of a Professional Cad. This was purchased some months ago for $95 on Amazon and it was worth every penny. The Siren let out a whoop of joy when she uncovered it in a box otherwise devoted to shoes and small trinkets.

So, to celebrate the Siren's sloughing off of Verizon and return to the land of high-speed Internet connections, here is dear George on the household organization involved in being married to Zsa Zsa. It sounds rather like perpetual unpacking.


During the five years I was married to Zsa Zsa Gabor, I lived in her sumptuous Bel-Air mansion as a sort of paying guest. My presence in the house was regarded by Zsa Zsa's press photographers, dressmakers, the household staff, and sundry visitors and friends with tolerant amusement.

I was allotted a small room in which I was permitted to keep my personal effects until such time as more space was needed to store her ever-mounting stacks of press clippings and photgraphs.

I was accustomed to austerity and it was no great sacrficie for me to dispose from time to time of some of my belongings so as to empty drawers in my room and make them avaiable for the more vital function of housing Zsa Zsa's memorabilia...

It was a kaleidescopic life and there were large areas of fun in it, yet there came a time when I felt I simply had to get away. Providence came to my assistance in the form of an offer from the great Italian director Roberto Rossellini...

I sought out Zsa Zsa to inform her of my decision. I found her under the hair dryer going over the guest list for her next party. I managed to attract her attention by waving my passport in front of her and conveyed my intention of leaving for Italy in sign language--the noise of the hair dryer precluding conversation. She regarded me indulgently for a moment and then with a sunny social smile returned to the sober scrutiny of her guest list.


Some amusingly chosen shots of the happy couple at Cinema Styles.

40 comments:

Donna said...

Welcome back to the cyber cafe!

George was such a delight, and like you, I treasure my copy of Memoirs of a Professional Cad and A Dreadful Man by Brian Aherne.

Terrific annecdote and here's hoping you unearth more treasures amongst the shoes.

Vanwall said...

Ah, back from the almost-modem days, eh? Watched "Dorian Gray" again recently, and it's curious how he's a catalyst, an enabler, and a man with a conscience after all - not too many could've pulled that off in one film.

OT, did you catch "Until They Sail" on TCM, a rare Paul Newman home-front film? Set in NZ with Joan Fontaine, Jean Simmons, Piper Laurie and Sandra Dee. Interesting diversion.

Karen said...

I have a profoundly difficult time imagining a Sanders/Gabor marriage. His description of it makes sense--he was just another accessory, wasn't he?

Well, I can see what she got out of it, but I'm not entirely sure what worked for him.

DavidEhrenstein said...

She claimed he was the only man she ever loved. And why not? George makes for a dandy acessory.

She is still among carbon-based life-forms, though just barely. Her hysband the phony Prince, wheels her out ever so often.

I know her daughter Francesca slightly. She's a stand-up comic.

Seriously.

Lou Lumenick said...

Not many people know George and Zsa Zsa apparently had a child together. During his divorce from Zsa Zsa in 1947, Conrad Hilton claimed that "their'' as-yet-undelivered daughter Francesca was actually fathered by George. Francesca, who was later disinherited by Conrad, once told me she believed Sanders was her father. If so, she's apparently his only child, as well as the only issue from any of the three Gabor sisters.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Well she told me otherwise. Though she liked George a lot.

hamletta said...

Sanders seems to have liked kids a lot more than grownups. Juliet Colman adored him, too.

I have that not-so-great biography of him, and Shirley Jones talks about how her boy Shaun, who was about 4 when they worked together, adored him. George would read him French Batman comic books.

Actually, Memoirs changed my perception of Zsa Zsa. He says they were lousy as a married couple, but she was the best, gamest traveling companion you could have.

hamletta said...

Oh, by the way: I hate, hate, hate you for having a copy of Memoirs!

I suppose I should assuage my jealousy by requesting it from the library. I haven't read it in years, and it's worth re-reading, which is why I'm kicking myself for not buying when it was in print and a mere $40!

gmoke said...

Zsa Zsa supposedly had a fling with Attaturk during her first marriage.

Exiled in NJ said...

So Sanders as Miles Fairley was that far off the mark?

Tony Dayoub said...

Your obvious love for Sanders demands that you write something more intensive about the man. Perhaps a screenplay or historical novel, if not an even more comprehensive bio than the one you use as source material?

Gloria said...

The excerpt makes you think:

George leaving Sza Sza to shoot "Viaggio in Italia".

Rossellini trying to patch up things Ingrid.

Troubled reaction onscreen by George and Ingrid when an old Pompeii couple is uncovered.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Incidentally, Gloria, Almodovar's Broken Embraces contains in its climax a clip of theclimax of Viaggio in Italia.

Vanwall said...

I wonder what three sisters will ever possibly rival the Gabors in notoriety. I've been hearing about their scandalous lives my whole life, and they scandalized with the best, and damn often. It's amazing to think of the list of their collateral hangers-on and I-knew-her-when-ers, not to mention the vapid whore-master in Germany who bought some sort of pretend title of Anhlt's, and can't leave out Paris Hilton - a true inheritor of their talent for fame without any discernible reason other than carnal, but with much less joi-de-vivre. Too bad Sanders and Zsa Zsa didn't have kids, (I'm betting on the Hilton lineage for Franny) perhaps they would've been more worthy of the Professional Cad and the Professional Mistress.

Flickhead said...

Incorporating the title of Zsa Zsa's best known work, perhaps the title to this post should've been "The Queen of Closet Space".

No?

Didn't think so...

DavidEhrenstein said...

Just discovered that I had an, somewhat chewed-up paperback copy of "Memoirs of a Professioanl Cad."

I am devouring it avidly.

The Siren said...

David, isn't it the best?

Vanwall, the Gabor sisters were definitely some kind of reality-star forebear as they became quite famous before they had done much of anything.

"The Queen of Closet Space" is a good title for *something*, Flickhead...but which Zsa Zsa work are we referring to? I'm afraid I am drawing a blank.

Flickhead said...

~ ahem ~

Queen of Outer Space...

>shakes head<

Yojimboen said...

You're not alone, Flick, I too have seen the worst movie in the history of sprocketed celluloid – which in turn begat the worst
YouTube in the history of… well, in history.

Bob Westal said...

I've always wondered how Ben Hecht got involved in that one...I actually recently saw it. It's bad alright, but often in an amusing way, but just as often in just a bad way.

The Siren said...

*smacks forehead* Of course! Do you know, I have never actually seen that one. I'm saving it, along with, you know, Mouchette and World of Apu.

DavidEhrenstein said...

It really is teriffic. Whoever helped him on the manuscript his voice comes through loud and clear.

And I agree Zsa Zsa was the marie Curie of "Reality Television." Yes she had a number of legitimate acting appearances. She was teriffic in Moulin Rouge. But basically she was. . .herself.
After Zsa Zsa it's only a hop skip and a jump to Lance Loud of An American Family -- who had he found his won George Sanders woudl have been the gay Zsa Zsa.

Yes I know that sounds redundant.

Today's "Reality" brats (The Osbournes, Jon & Kate) have nothing on the Gabors.

DavidEhrenstein said...

The General verbally bitch-slaps today's most annoying Zsa Zsa wannabe.

Karen said...

Oh, man, I love the General.

Greg said...

I love Queen of Outer Space. It takes place in the future, 1985. Unfortunately Zsa-Zsa t'ain't the Queen. Still, it's amusing enough. And its vision of the future is, of course, dead on.

Yojimboen said...

I just said Queen of Outer Space was the worst movie of all time, that doesn't mean I don’t love it. There is a difference; which I trust nobody in this kaffeeklatsch needs to have explained.

Trish said...

Oh! You guys make me envious... I've heard the Sanders memoir is a real corker, but never had the chance to read it. I don't suppose there's a dog-eared copy on the shelf at the library.... :O

Greg said...

Yojimboen, I did a whole blogathon saluting Ed Wood. Trust me, one need not explain loving bad movies, especially one as wonderful as Queen of Outer Space.

X. Trapnel said...

Has the very nature of BAD movies changed? We are assured that Ed Wood believed in his artistry, and though I suspect that the makers of Queen of Outer Space were quietly chortling during production there's still a naive, stony-faced seriousness about it, sort of proto-Star Trek.
As a believer in the Gospel According to Ovid I hold that cultural phenomena of one decade metamorphose into something quite different in the next. So where/how/what is this kind of badness today?

DavidEhrenstein said...

I trust you know who gets screenplay credit for Queen of Outer Space, X.

X. Trapnel said...

IMDB is a little vague here. They tell us that Hecht did the "outline" (whatever that may be) and I'm (sorrowfully) assuming Charles Beaumont (who wrote some good horror fiction and many TZ episodes) wrote the original story. But the dialogue, David, sounds like it was improvised by 10 year olds. Or is Z. Zsa Gabor its onlie begetter?

Vanwall said...

Raymond Chandler:

"Did you ever read what they call Science Fiction. It's a scream. It is written like this:

'I check out with K 19 on Aldabaran III, and stepped out through the crummalite hatch on my 22 Model Sirus Hardtop. I cocked the timejector in secondary and waded through the bright blue manda grass. My breath froze into pink pretzels. I flicked on the heat bars and the Brylls ran swiftly on five legs using their other two to send out crylon vibrations. The pressure was almost unbearable, but I caught the range on my wrist computer through the transparent cysicites. I pressed the trigger. The thin violet glow was icecold against the rust-colored mountains. The Brylls shrank to half an inch long and I worked fast stepping on them with the poltex. But it wasn't enough. The sudden brightness swung me around and the Fourth Moon had already risen. I had exactly four seconds to hot up the disintegrator and Google had told me it wasn't enough. He was right.'

They pay brisk money for this crap?"

That was the prevailing view of the market, remember. "Queen of Outer Space" looked, acted, and smelled like a lot of cheap sc-fi from the pulps, no surprise the wooden acting had wooden dialog.

X. Trapnel said...

Did Chandler imagine that H.G. Wells wrote like that? SF has as distinguished--and awful--a patrimony as the detective story.

Yojimboen said...

“I hold that cultural phenomena of one decade metamorphose into something quite different in the next.”
True, X, but don’t we have to add to the mix the metamorphosis of our own perceptions over that same decade? For myself, when re-viewing movies I loved or hated as a kid I find generally I was wrong more often than not – but more by way of the Mark Twain theorem than via any shift in cultural phenomena.

BTW I hope no one took seriously my pompous pronouncement that Queen of Outer Space was the worst movie ever made. It’s silly, but far from the worst.
(That would be Million Dollar Baby.)

X. Trapnel said...

Y, you have raised a crucial distinction just as this thread has been swamped by a long post from our hostess (which I can't wait to read). I would define bad movies (Million $ Baby for you; Breaking the Waves for me) as something that simply cannot be watched. Ezra Pound for me is unreadable, but Wm. McGonagall (poet and tragedian) gives pleasure. A problem in aesthetics.

gmoke said...

In the newspaper today is a capsule review of a new book titled _George Sanders, Zsa Zsa, and Me_ by David Slavitt from Northwestern University Press. Might be of interest to those of you who are inveterate fans of Mr Sanders or Ms Gabor.

Historically, it might be interesting to compare the Gabor sisters to the Dolly sisters, another set of Hungarian beauties.

Deb T said...

"Arsenic and Old Lace" with Cary Grant. I watch it near Halloween.

"Shop Around the Corner" with Jimmy Stewart and Maureen O'Sullivan. I always think of this as a Christmas movie.

"Shadow of a Doubt" - turned me into a Joseph Cotten fan.

"The Glass Key" - Alan Ladd, Brian Donlevy and Veronica Lake, and of course, William Bendix!

"Notorious" has a special place in my heart because of the Claude Raines character. Initially the glamour or the leads drew me in, but Claude kept me coming back.

"Petrified Forest" Love Bogey, Betty and Leslie trio.

"Key West" - Bogey and Bacall, but again, it's Edward G. that makes it for me - and the hurricane.

"Destry" - have to have a western and this one has Stewart and Dietrich - though not my favorite Dietrich role.

"Top Hat" - my intro to Astaire and Rogers.

"In a Lonely Place" Bogey again but this time with the enchanting Gloria Grahame.

"Red River" - Monty and John Wayne in a classic Howard Hawks western where the men are men and the women are men too.

"The Deep End" - Tilda Swinton and Goran Visjnic. This really grew on me as I watched. It's newer and I've only seen it about 3 times.


Is that 10?

Buttermilk Sky said...

"I managed to attract her attention by waving my passport in front of her and conveyed my intention of leaving for Italy in sign language." Do you suppose Sanders's "collaborator" could have been S.J. Perelman? This sounds like one of his sentences. We must get this book back in print -- I can't spend o.o.p. money for it.

Favorites:

"Double Indemnity," the whole damn thing, but especially Robinson's speech -- aria, really -- on the different ways to commit suicide.

"Duck Soup" -- the mirror scene.

"My Man Godfrey" -- again, good to the last drop, but I really love Godfrey serving breakfast to Mrs. Bullock and solving her problem with the pixies.

"Swing Time" -- "Never Gonna Dance," of course.

I'll think of ten more as soon as I hit the orange rectangle.

Glad you're settled in, look forward to seeing you on TCM at whatever unholy hour.

cgeye said...

Great Caesar's Ghost: Mr. Saunders dancing and singing Irving Berlin's hits, with no dubs, IN ACCENT, in Call Me Madam.

He even makes Miss Merman look dainty. Wow. Premiered last week on TCM.

The Siren said...

Cgeye, that is one of my least favorite musicals--I'm not even crazy about darling Vera-Ellen in it--but I will watch it for him alone. His voice was very good! He claimed to have trained it by singing "Because" every day. It wasn't on TCM before, glad they have it now.