Born in Budapest to a Hungarian Jewish mother and a Hungarian father, Eva Gabor was the youngest of three daughters of Vilmos Gábor (1884–1962), a soldier, and his wife Jolie (1896–1997), a jeweler. She was the first of the sisters to emigrate to the United States, with her first husband, a Swedish osteopath, Dr. Eric V. Drimmer, in 1939, shortly after they married in London. Her first movie role was in the United States in Forced Landing at Paramount Pictures. She acted in movies and onstage throughout the 1950s. During the 1950s, she appeared in several “A”-movies, including The Last Time I Saw Paris, starring Elizabeth Taylor; and Artists and Models, which featured Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. These roles were again bit parts. In 1953, she was given her own television talk show, The Eva Gabor Show, which ran for one season (1953–54). Through the rest of the 1950s and early 1960s, she appeared on television and in movies. She appeared in one episode of the mystery series Justice, and was on the game show What’s My Line? as the “mystery challenger”. Her film appearances during this era included a remake of My Man Godfrey, Gigi, and It Started with a Kiss.
In a 2007 article in Vanity Fair, Gabor was called, “A game performer with a wholesome, even cheerful sensuality that can undercut the Continental sophistication that was supposedly her calling card—she can come across like Sally Field doing a party impression of Marlene Dietrich. You can see the effort. She was probably at her best on television in Green Acres, playing a cross between Gracie Allen and herself.” In 1965, Gabor began the role for which she is best-remembered, Lisa Douglas, whose attorney husband (Oliver Wendell Douglas, played by Eddie Albert) decides to leave the city. They buy and run a farm in a rural community, forcing Lisa to leave her beloved New York City, in the Paul Henning sitcom Green Acres, which aired on CBS. Green Acres was set in Hooterville, the same backdrop for Petticoat Junction (1963–1970), and would occasionally cross over with its sister sitcom. Despite proving to be a ratings hit, staying in the top twenty for its first four seasons, Green Acres, along with another sister show, The Beverly Hillbillies, were cancelled in 1971 in the CBS network’s infamous “rural purge” — an attempt to attract a younger viewer demographic, as most viewers of the series were at least 40 years old.
Gabor later did voice-over work for Disney movies, providing the European-accented voices of Duchess in The Aristocats, Miss Bianca in The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under, and the Queen of Time in the Sanrio film Nutcracker Fantasy. She was a panelist on the Gene Rayburn-hosted Match Game. From 1983–84, she was on Hollywood Squares. She reunited with Albert on Broadway as Olga in You Can’t Take It with You. In 1990, Gabor attempted a TV series comeback in the CBS sitcom pilot Close Encounters, in which she played the successful owner of a video dating service; the pilot aired as a special that summer, but it did not make it to series. Gabor toured post-communist Hungary on an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous after a forty-year absence. In 1972, Gabor launched her eponymous fashion collection, with Luis Estevez, a Cuban-born, Coty-award-winning fashion designer. Eva Gabor died in Los Angeles on July 4, 1995, from respiratory failure and pneumonia, following a fall in the bathtub in Mexico, where she had been on vacation. The youngest sister, Eva predeceased her elder sisters and her mother. Sister Magda and mother Jolie Gabor both died two years later, in 1997. As of 2015, Zsa Zsa is still alive.
- February, 11, 1919
- Budapest, Hungary
- July, 04, 1995
- Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death
- respiratory failure and pneumonia
- Westwood Memorial Park
- Los Angeles, California