Popular sitcom ‘Green Acres’ premiered on CBS back in 1965, generating audience laughter for six years. Starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, the series depicts a married couple who leave the big city for a simpler life. Oliver and Lisa Douglas were living in a Manhattan penthouse when Oliver decides to end his career as an attorney and pursue his dream of owning a farm.
Full of gag humor and satire, the show’s ratings quickly escalated and earned life-long fans. Even though it was wildly popular, not even the show’s biggest supporters know all of these interesting details. Learn what went on behind the scenes with these farmyard facts about ‘Green Acres’!
The Sitcom Was Based On A Radio Show
Back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, it was common practice for television shows to be created based on radio shows. ‘Green Acres’ was no exception, and was based on a radio show called ‘Granby’s Green Acres’. While it wasn’t as successful, it aired eight episodes during the summer of 1950.
In addition to their similar titles, the shows also had similar storylines. The radio show portrayed a story about a banker who left his job to become a farmer. It followed the trials and tribulations of his new lifestyle, gaining enough listeners that the show’s creator, Jay Sommers, was able to remake it 15 years later.
Popular sitcom 'Green Acres' premiered on CBS back in 1965, generating audience laughter for six years. Starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, the series depicts a married couple who leave the big city for a simpler life. Oliver and Lisa Douglas were living in a Manhattan penthouse when Oliver decides to end his career as an attorney and pursue his dream of owning a farm.
Full of gag humor and satire, the show’s ratings quickly escalated and earned life-long fans. Even though it was wildly popular, not even the show’s biggest supporters know all of these interesting details. Learn what went on behind the scenes with these farmyard facts about 'Green Acres'!
The Sitcom Was Based On A Radio Show
Back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, it was common practice for television shows to be created based on radio shows. 'Green Acres' was no exception, and was based on a radio show called 'Granby’s Green Acres'. While it wasn’t as successful, it aired eight episodes during the summer of 1950.
In addition to their similar titles, the shows also had similar storylines. The radio show portrayed a story about a banker who left his job to become a farmer. It followed the trials and tribulations of his new lifestyle, gaining enough listeners that the show’s creator, Jay Sommers, was able to remake it 15 years later.
Both Stars Mirrored Their Onscreen Characters
The stars of Green Acres, Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, both resemble their onscreen characters. Albert may have been a circus trapeze flier before becoming an actor, but he also had a bit of a green thumb. He grew organic vegetables in his greenhouse and transformed his front yard into a cornfield, building his own small farm to work on.
Born in Budapest, Hungary, Eva was known for her love of animals. She owned everything from dogs to chickens, and would often bring her pets to parties to show them off. Like her character, there were some aspects of country living that she enjoyed, but she was always a city gal at heart!
A Well-Known Composer Wrote the Show’s Theme Song
The theme song for 'Green Acres' was catchy and humorous, making it not only memorable but loved by fans. It was written by famed composer Vic Mizzy, who wrote a number of theme songs for shows in the ‘60s and ‘70s. In addition to the intro for 'Green Acres', he also created the theme song for 'The Addams Family', 'Captain Nice', and 'The Don Rickles Show'.
Performed by the actors, lyrics to the song played at the start of each 'Green Acres' episode start, “Green Acres is the place to be. Farm livin' is the life for me. Land spreadin' out so far and wide. Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside. New York is where I'd rather stay. I get allergic smelling hay. I just adore a penthouse view. Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue.”
Actors Never Improvised
While both television and film actors often improvise their lines, that wasn’t the case while filming 'Green Acres'. Albert explained that it wasn’t necessary, saying that “There was no time to improvise on that program […] it was so well written, it would be impossible to improve on it. We never changed a word. I’ve never been in anything before or since that I didn’t want to monkey with a sentence here or something. But not a word there.”
This may come as a surprise, as ad-libbing lines often comes naturally to actors and may even be encouraged to do so by directors. However, this wasn’t the case on the set of 'Green Acres', according to Albert!
The Show Is Based On True Events
Well, sort of. 'Green Acres' creator Jay Sommers described in an interview his inspiration for the show saying, “I got the idea from my stepfather when I was a kid […] He wanted a farm in the worst way and he finally got one.”
It would seem that Sommers was forced to lend a hand on the farm after his stepfather got one, and he couldn’t have despised it more! “I remember having to hoe potatoes. I hated it. I won’t even do the gardening at our home now, I was so resentful as a child.”
Eva’s Wardrobe Was a Source of Conflict On Set
Eva’s onscreen wardrobe was intended to make her appear like an outcast in the country and would be considered classy yet showy. She would often accessorize her outfits with feather boas, which was a problem for her co-star. Albert asked Eva to skip the feathered accents onscreen, as he was concerned that women would want to copy her style and more birds would be killed as a result.
Allegedly Eva refused, claiming, “feathers don’t come from birds.” When asked where she thought the feathers came from, the Hungarian actress responded saying, “Dahlin, pillows! Feathers come from pee-lowz!”
The Show Contained a Number of Easter Eggs
While today it’s a regular practice to insert Easter eggs in television shows, it’s hardly a new concept. For example, in one episode, Lisa and her husband experience conflict over her lack of homemaking skills. She reminds Oliver, “When you married me, you knew that I couldn’t cook, I couldn’t sew, and I couldn’t keep house. All I could do was talk Hungarian and do imitations of Zsa Zsa Gabor.” Zsa Zsa is Eva’s sister in real life!
'Green Acres' would also occasionally make references to 'The Beverly Hillbillies' and 'Petticoat Junction', as they all had the same executive producer, Paul Henning. Oliver and Lisa even star in a play that pays homage to 'The Beverly Hillbillies' in season two!
A ‘Green Acres’ TV Movie Was Created
Twenty years after the last episode of 'Green Acres' aired, a TV movie was created that reunited the cast. 'Return to Green Acres' premiered in 1990 and was set 20 years in the future. It starts off with Oliver and Lisa back in New York City and wildly unsatisfied.
The Hootervillians beg the couple to come back and save the town from those who are set out to destroy it. Developers want to build an industrial section and plan to use any means necessary to deceive residents and convince them to sell out.
The Show Was Cancelled During the ‘Rural Purge’
'Green Acres' was canceled in 1971, after six years on television, during what later became known as the “rural purge.” In the early ‘70s, television networks were canceling shows set in rural environments.
Actor Pat Buttram, who played Mr. Haney on 'Green Acres', described the event as “the year CBS canceled everything with a tree.” It led to the end of a variety of sitcoms including 'The Beverly Hillbillies', 'Petticoat Junction', 'The Andy Griffith Show', 'Lassie', 'Mayberry R.F.D', and 'Hee Haw'.
Hooterville’s General Location Is Still Unknown
The general location of the fictional town of Hooterville was never revealed. Since Oliver and Lisa originally lived in Manhattan, audiences assumed the town was likely located somewhere in New York. When it was learned that the show was based on Sommers’ life, people assumed Hooterville was inspired by Greendale, New York, where the creator once spent time on a farm.
These assumptions were later disproved, however, when Mr. Haney comments on the fact that Hooterville is 300 miles outside of Chicago. As the only reference to a nearby nonfiction city, the town’s general location still remains a mystery.
Mr. Haney Is Based On Elvis Presley’s Manager
It’s not uncommon for actors to use the people they come across in their lives as inspiration for their characters. Actor Pat Buttram revealed that he used Elvis Presley’s manager as inspiration for his character on the show, Mr. Haney. He met the manager, Colonel Tom Parker, on the set of the film 'Roustabout'.
Considering Mr. Haney is a seedy local salesman who dupes Lisa and Oliver out of money when they first move into their new farm, Buttram likely had a negative experience with Elvis’ manager. It speaks volumes about what Elvis may have experienced at the hands of his manager during his career.
Albert Had Apprehensions About Being On TV
Albert’s acting career started on stage and radio, so when he was asked if he would ever appear on television, he made it clear that he wasn’t a fan. In fact, he claimed the medium was “geared to mediocrity” and couldn’t imagine starring on a television show until his agent pitched him the idea for 'Green Acres'.
In a later interview, however, his reaction to being on television had drastically changed. When asked about his thoughts on the show’s premise, Albert said, “Swell; that’s me. Everyone gets tired of the rat race. Everyone would like to chuck it all and grow some carrots. It’s basic. Sign me […] I knew it would be successful. Had to be.” And he was right!
Actor Hank Patterson Was Nearly Deaf
Actor Hank Patterson played Fred Ziffek, one of the Douglases' elderly neighbors. By the time he accepted his role on 'Green Acres', he was almost completely deaf, causing complications on set. However, since he was popular with audiences, CBS knew they had to figure out a way to make it work.
To better accommodate Patterson, they came up with a few tricks to help him say his lines on cue. One of these was using a dialogue coach, who would lay on the floor off-screen. The coach would use a yardstick to poke the actor when it was time to say his lines!
‘Green Acres’ Made a Comeback in the ‘90s
At the peak of Nickelodeon’s 'Nick at Nite' programming, they started airing reruns of 'Green Acres'. The network promoted the show with the slogan: “It’s not stupid … it’s surrealism!” In an interview with People, Albert said he agreed with the slogan saying, “A professor once told me students see it as surrealistic […] The comedy is like Pickwick Papers or Gulliver’s Travels or Voltaire. It’s so far out that it becomes truth, deep truth.”
Another comeback may be in the show’s future as well! In 2012, a script designed for Broadway was written and rumors of a reboot on the big screen began circulating. While it wasn’t promoted as a remake, ABC’s 'Bless This Mess', starring Dax Shepard and Lake Bell, follows a similar storyline. It was canceled in 2020 after just two seasons.
Oliver Was the Only One to Treat Arnold Like a Pig
Lisa and Oliver’s elderly neighbors, Fred and Doris Ziffel, had a pig who they treated like a son. Arnold was heavily pampered, lived indoors, watched television, and would even go off to school! When he snorted, everyone could understand him as if he was speaking perfect English, except Oliver.
To Oliver, Arnold was just a pig on his neighbor’s farm and that’s exactly how he treated him. While he couldn’t understand his oinks and grunts at the beginning of the series, towards the end he slips up and starts treating Arnold like a child.
Albert and Eva Had Great Onscreen Chemistry for a Reason
Despite their disagreement over her feather accessories, Albert and Eva were great friends behind the scenes. This allowed them to portray a realistic couple on screen with chemistry that made the show such a hit!
When Eva passed away in 1995, from respiratory failure and pneumonia, Albert was devastated. After working together for so many years, they were able to maintain a friendship long after the show was canceled.
Neither Albert Nor Eva Were the Network’s First Choice
Albert wasn’t the first actor offered the role of Oliver Douglas. Actor and comedian Don Ameche, who is best known for appearing in 'Trading Places' and 'Coming To America', was offered the part. After he turned it down, Albert signed on.
Additionally, both Marsha Hunt and Janet Blair did screen tests for the role of Lisa, but Eva was ultimately offered the role. CBS was against it, as they felt audiences wouldn’t understand her thick Hungarian accent, but she ultimately won them over.
Conflict Over Ralph Monroe’s Gender
Two of the show’s main characters, Alf (played by Sid Melton) and his "brother" Ralph (played by Mary Grace Canfield), would constantly bicker. In addition to being siblings, the two also worked together as carpenters. It was quickly revealed that Ralph is actually Alf’s sister, who dresses like a boy in order to work.
Apparently, Alf felt that they wouldn’t get any construction jobs if customers knew a woman was doing the job. Executives at CBS had a problem with this part of the storyline, claiming viewers wouldn’t believe a woman could handle a blue-collar job. Perhaps this is why the duo fails at every job that comes their way!
Morbid Rumors About Arnold the Pig
It should come as no surprise that Arnold the pig was a huge fan favorite, and when 'Green Acres' was canceled, many were left wondering what happened to the star. Arnold contributed heavily to the show’s humor and was often described as “the true star of 'Green Acres'.” However, a bad joke led to morbid rumors about the pig.
When asked about Arnold’s whereabouts, actor Tom Lester, who played Eb Dawson, claimed that he was cooked and eaten at a luau-themed wrap party. While he was just kidding, many fans took his claims seriously and were horrified. It wasn’t long before the truth was revealed, however, and viewers were reassured it was a joke.
Sam Drucker Appears In ‘Green Acres’ and ‘Petticoat Junction’
Played by actor Frank Cady, Sam Drucker practically runs all of Hooterville. In addition to being the storekeeper, he is also a newspaper editor, constable, notary, justice of the peace, postmaster, volunteer fireman, and more. Unlike most people in town, he is inspired by Oliver’s rural ambitions.
Since Sam runs most of the businesses in town, it would only make sense that he appear in both shows that are set in this universe. Viewers can see him running Hotterville in both 'Green Acres' and 'Petticoat Junction'.
The Gabor Family Fled from Nazi-Occupied Budapest
Eva Gabor came to the United States during World War II, immigrating from Budapest, Hungary. Eva had two older sisters, actresses Zsa Zsa and Magda. Her mother, Jolie Gabor, was the heiress to a jewelry empire and her father, Vilmos Gabor, served in the Hungarian Army.
The Jewish-Hungarian family came to America to escape Nazi-occupied Budapest in the ‘40s. In addition to safety, they found careers in entertainment. Likely their unique story and accents helped them stand out in Hollywood!
It Took Them Months to Get to the U.S.
Back then, the Gabor family couldn’t simply hop on a plane in order to get to the United States. They had to work their way through a war-torn Europe, which took most of the family months. While they left Hungary in 1944, most of the family didn’t get to America until December 1945.
Eva’s sister Magda, however, got held up after rumors about her “friendship” with the Portuguese ambassador, Carlos Sampaio Garrido, began to develop. News of their affair developed into a major scandal and speculation about a possible engagement. However, there was never proof that their relationship was ever more than a professional one.
Eva’s Mother Owned A Brothel
Like for most parents, it was important for Eva’s mother Jolie to provide her daughters with the best possible life she could. Allegedly, she recognized how beautiful her daughters were and started teaching them how to attract wealthy men from a young age.
Jolie also allegedly owned and operated a successful brothel in Budapest. Despite being a socialite, it may have been her business that allowed the family to move to the United States during the height of World War II.
Jolie Gabor Was a Momager
While Kris Jenner may be known as the ultimate momager of our time, she wasn’t the first to do this for her celebrity children. In addition to teaching her daughters how to attract wealthy men, she also taught them the ways of the wealthy. She felt that by becoming accustomed to the things affluent people fancied, they would also become rich.
This didn’t mean she wanted her daughters to become gold diggers. It was important to Jolie that her girls were independently wealthy so that their choice in men wasn’t limited. She has been quoted saying, “When you can support yourself, you can choose your husbands. You have not to be the slave of a rich man.”
Jolie’s Advice Was Ahead of the Times
Any advice on how to land a man is regarded as old-fashioned, but when you learn what Jolie Gabor’s advice for her daughters was, you’ll likely agree she was ahead of the times. During a time when so many believed a woman’s sole purpose was to take care of a man, Eva’s mother had a refreshing point of view. She felt that women should first worry about being successful on their own, and then they would have their pick of men to choose from.
She is quoted saying a woman should have, ”Beauty to capture, brains to hold. Brains are important because if a man is just looking for beauty, he can buy a beautiful painting. Then a good disposition. A nagging wife can kill a husband. A marriage is something between two, and I always feel much sorry for a man to make a bad marriage than a woman because he has to pay for it. In money, I mean. And two made the mistake.”
Scandal Followed Magda Gabor
Rumors of Magda’s affair wasn’t the only scandal she was involved in. After being linked to Carlos Sampaio Garrido while still married to Jan Bychowsky, she fled Hungary. It was during this time that she was linked to Spanish nobleman Jose Luis de Vilallonga.
That affair didn’t last long, however, and she didn’t wait long after her husband’s death to remarry. Just months after her arrival in America, she got married to a playwright and screenwriter, William M. Rankin.
Magda Marries Two More Times
Magda’s marriage to Rankin didn’t last, and by July of 1949, she was planning her third marriage. Living in New York at the time, she met and married attorney Sidney Robert. Their relationship was short-lived though, and by the following year, they were divorced.
Her fourth marriage was to the president of Samuel Gallucci and Son, one of the oldest contracting companies in the country. His name was Arthur “Tony” Gallucci, and the couple lasted until he died of cancer in 1967.
Magda’s Scandalous Fifth Marriage
After Gallucci died, Magda was devastated and mourned his death for many months. However, just three years later, she was walking down the aisle yet again. During a time when divorce and multiple marriages were considered a major faux pas, Magda was on her fifth. That wasn’t the most scandalous part of this wedding though.
Magda didn’t marry just anyone this time. She married British actor George Sanders, her former brother-in-law. Sanders had been previously married to her sister, Zsa Zsa! It didn’t last though, as pressure from her family likely led the couple to annul their marriage just a month later.
Eva Takes The Spotlight
Magda may have had a brief acting career in Hungary, but most of her recognition came from the scandals she was involved in. Her younger sister Eva was quickly becoming a rising star and made her debut in the Paramount Pictures film, 'Forced Landing'.
The action movie isn’t highly rated, but it earned six times the amount it cost to make it and led to two more movies. As Eva’s first appearance on film, it isn’t her best work, but it ultimately led to her career on screen.
Eva Had Her Own Talk Show
Despite a rocky start to her acting career, Eva’s beauty and familial ties kept her on screen. In 1953, she was the host of 'The Eva Gabor Show', on which she held interviews that addressed celebrity gossip. It made sense, since her sister was often smack in the middle of one scandal or another.
Eva was given just 15 minutes a week, which is far from what talk shows have become today. Unfortunately, the show wasn’t a success and was canceled just a year later in 1954.
Eva’s Role On ‘Green Acres’
It wasn’t until 1965, more than 10 years after her talk show was canceled, that Eva made it into mainstream entertainment. She was offered a starring role on 'Green Acres', which was promoted as a “sister” to CBS’ successful sitcom 'Petticoat Junction'.
As we now know, the show was a huge hit and ran with high ratings for six years. If American television hadn’t switched over to urban settings, the show likely would have continued even longer. Unfortunately, it was a victim of the “rural purge” in 1971.
Eva Voiced Several Cartoons
If Eva’s voice sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that. After 'Green Acres' was canceled, she started voice acting. Some characters she voiced were The Dutchess in Disney’s 'The Aristocrats', and Miss. Bianca in both 'The Rescuers' and 'The Rescuers Down Under'.
Additionally, Eva appeared in numerous sitcoms throughout the ‘80s, including 'The Love Boat', 'Fantasy Island', and 'Hart to Hart'. She likely would have gone on to do more voice work if not for her sudden death in 1997, at the age of 76.
Multiple Marriages Ran in the Family
While Eva’s love life wasn’t quite as scandalous as her sister Magda’s, it was far from perfect. Her first marriage occurred in London in 1937, to Eric Valdemar Drimmer, a Swedish masseur, and osteopath. Eva explained that the two divorced in 1937 because “I wanted to have babies and lead a simple family life but my husband objected to me having children.”
Her second marriage was in 1943, to investment broker Charles Isaacs. Their relationship didn’t last, however, and they divorced in 1949.
Eva Marries Several More Times
Eva’s third husband was plastic surgeon John Elbert Williams M.D., whom she divorced in less than a year. Her fourth husband lasted a bit longer. Richard Brown was a textile manufacturer who Eva married in 1959. They were married for 13 years before their divorce became official.
The same year Eva’s divorce from Brown was finalized, she married her fifth and final husband. She exchanged vows with Rockwell International Vice President, Frank Gard Jamerson Sr., in 1973. Unfortunately, the two split in 1983, leaving Eva with a stepdaughter.
Zsa Zsa Gabor’s Rise to Fame
As the most well-known Gabor sister, it should come as no surprise that Zsa Zsa Gabor’s rise to fame started at a young age. She became known in her home country after being crowned Miss. Hungary in 1936. After that, she was discovered by musician Richard Tauber, who cast her in an operetta.
The operetta was called “Der Singende Traum” (The Singing Dream). It was highly praised at the time and performed at the Theater an der Wien. This was just the beginning of Zsa Zsa’s life in the public eye.
Zsa Zsa’s Scandalous Affairs
Zsa Zsa’s love life was so scandalous that it put her sister’s multiple marriages to shame. She married a total of nine times, which is more than both Magda and Eva, and alluded to having affairs. In an interview, she was asked how many husbands she has had, to which she responded, “You mean other than my own?”
That being said, Zsa Zsa’s first husband was a Turkish intellectual and member of the Turkish National Assembly, Burhan Asaf Beige. Their marriage lasted four years before they divorced in 1941, and she went on to marry the founder of Hilton Hotel chains, Conrad Hilton, the following year. However, Zsa Zsa revealed he was too much of a controlling partner, and they split in 1947.
Zsa Zsa Doesn’t Give Up on Love
Zsa Zsa’s third husband was actor George Henry Sanders, who would later marry her sister. They married in 1949 and appeared in the movie 'Death of a Scoundrel', in 1956, one year after their divorce. Many years later, in 1972, Sanders overdosed on barbiturates and his death was ruled a suicide.
Next came banker, attorney, and philanthropist, Herbert Hutner. He and Zsa Zsa exchanged vows in 1962, but divorced just four years later. The actress claimed Hutner was too good to her, causing her to almost lose her drive, so he had to go!
The same year her marriage to Hutner ended, Zsa Zsa married a man named Joshua S. Cosden. After they divorced just a year later in 1967, she took some time off from marriage life and didn’t exchange vows again until 1975. This was to the inventor of Mattel’s Barbie doll, Jack Ryan. They divorced in 1976, but Zsa Zsa is rumored to have inspired the popular toy!
Without hesitation, Zsa Zsa next married Michael O’Hara. Their marriage lasted until 1983, a total of six years. The actress has joked about her many marriages, even saying, “I am a marvelous housekeeper: Every time I leave a man I keep his house.”
Married For A Day
In 1983, Zsa Zsa married her eighth husband, a Mexican lawyer called Felipe de Alba. They wed on April 13 and had it annulled the following day, in one of history’s shortest marriages. However, their split wasn’t by choice.
It came to light that the paperwork for Zsa Zsa’s divorce to O’Hara hadn’t been processed properly, meaning she couldn’t legally marry de Alba. However, it may have been for the best, because the couple split soon after their wedding day.
Zsa Zsa Finds Her Prince Charming
Zsa Zsa’s ninth and final husband was German-American entrepreneur, Frederic Prinz von Anhalt. They got married in 1986 and remained in marriage bliss until Zsa Zsa’s death thirty years later, in 2016. "We didn't marry for love", Prinz von Anhalt once claimed. "It was a friendship, but when you're with someone over a certain time you fall in love."
Strangely, Prinz von Anhalt purchased the “von Anhalt” part of his name from Princess Marie-Auguste of Anhalt. The royal title was given to him after the princess formally adopted him as her heir. Prinz von Anhalt went on to do the same for ten men, selling the title for $2 million each. Despite this being illegal in Germany, it seems to be common practice.
Anhalt Had His Own Scandalous Past
Prinz von Anhalt was far from innocent when he and Zsa Zsa got hitched. Despite her being 26 years his senior, he had still been married seven times in the past. Zsa Zsa’s friends and family were concerned that Prinz von Anhalt was taking advantage of her, using her to rub elbows with American socialites and celebrities.
Fans were shocked when Prinz von Anhalt admitted to having a decade long affair with Anna Nicole Smith, after her tragic death. He even made claims that Smith’s daughter Dannilynne was his, and allegedly offered his DNA as proof. While it was found that he was not the child’s father, the press surrounding his claims got him the attention he was after.
Zsa Zsa’s Daughter
Even though Zsa Zsa had been married nine times, she only had one child. Her daughter Constance Francesca Hilton was conceived during her second marriage, after being assaulted by then-husband Conrad Hilton. The two had divorced before Constance was born.
While she would sometimes spend holidays with her father and share the occasional lunch, Conrad and Constance were never close. In fact, when he died in 1979, he only left her $100,000, which is pocket change compared to his estate worth $200 million. The majority of his money is said to have been donated to his charity.
Constance Disputes the Will
Insulted by her inheritance, Constance challenged her father’s will in court. Unfortunately, she lost and didn’t receive any extra money. Constance wasn’t the only member of the Hilton family who was unsatisfied with their inheritance. Her half brother, Barron Hilton, also challenged the will in court, but had better luck than Constance.
As acting CEO of the Hilton Hotels, Barron had a much better chance and ended up receiving voting interest and income rights over the majority of the company’s stock. This significantly increased the value and holdings of the Hilton Empire, putting Barron on the fast-track to becoming a Forbes 400-ranked billionaire.
Constance Struggles to Make a living
Unlike her wealthy niece, Francesca Hilton, Constance didn’t have family money to help make ends meet. She took a variety of career paths over the years, trying her hand in entertainment as an actress and stand-up comedian, and worked as a photographer through the ‘80s. She even lent a hand to her father’s charities and foundations.
Unfortunately, she wound up homeless and was living in her car for a while before her death in 2015. The cause of death was a major stroke. At nearly 98 years old, her mother Zsa Zsa was suffering from dementia and was never even informed of her daughter’s passing. Zsa Zsa died shortly after.
Constance and Her Stepfather Butt Heads
Towards the end of Zsa Zsa’s life, she had a number of health issues that left her disabled. In addition to two strokes and dementia, she also had an infection that forced doctors to amputate her right leg. She spent the last five years of her life on life support, during which Constance accused Prinz von Anhalt of keeping her mother away from her. In turn, he cut her off financially.
Ultimately, she was unable to see her mother, as Constance ended up having a stroke and passing away first. Prinz von Anhalt tried to claim his stepdaughter’s body, however, the Los Angeles medical examiner denied him the right. Barron ultimately stepped up and claimed the body, and Constance was laid to rest by the Hilton family.
Constance’s Entertainment Career
Despite jumping from job to job, Constance still had a relatively successful career in entertainment. While her credits are nothing compared to her mother’s, she appeared in several films and television shows under the name Francesca Hilton. She made her debut in 1971, alongside Jack Nicholson, Orson Welles, and Tuesday Weld, in 'A Safe Place'.
Constance went on to make small appearances, including in 'The Gravy Train' in 1974, and on some television shows. While she continued to act until 1999, she focused on a career in photography in the ‘80s and later tried her hand at comedy. She would perform frequently at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood, until she ran out of luck and ended up living out of her car.
After suffering a major stroke, Constance passed away on January 5, 2015, at the age of 67. She died at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after being homeless for several years. Since her mother Zsa Zsa was ill, Prinz von Anhalt felt it was best not to tell her about her daughter’s death, as he didn’t want to risk her emotional health.
The Hilton family held a funeral for Constance for all of her friends and family before she was cremated. Her ashes were buried at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery near her aunt, Eva Gabor.
The Story Behind Zsa Zsa’s Mugshot
On June 14, 1989, Zsa Zsa was arrested for slapping a police officer, leading to her infamous mugshot. After Officer Paul Kramer pulled over the actress for a traffic violation, he discovered that she was driving without a license and had a flask of Jack Daniels on hand.
For some reason, Zsa Zsa then decided to drive away in her $215,000 Rolls-Royce, leading to a high-speed pursuit. When the actress pulled over again, the altercation occurred and she was arrested. In interviews, she accused the officer of rough-handling her and using foul language.
Zsa Zsa’s Sentencing
Despite her crocodile tears, a court found Zsa Zsa guilty, sentencing her to 3 days in jail, 120 hours of community service, a psychiatric evaluation, and a $12,937 fine. They dismissed the charge regarding her driving away in the middle of the traffic stop, blaming it on miscommunication.
While Zsa Zsa blew off her community service, she did sit in a jail cell from July 27 to July 30, 1990. She looked forward to her time behind bars though, claiming it would give her time to work on her book. A local restaurant even offered to deliver her meals three times a day!
Zsa Zsa Gets Special Treatment
The actress was photographed wearing a large orange sweatshirt at the El Segundo city jail during the start of her stay. There was a period of nine months between Zsa Zsa’s sentence, imposed by Beverly Hills Municipal Judge Charles Rubin in October of 1989, and the day she entered her cell in July of 1990.
Her lawyer also made special arrangements for her to serve her sentence at the El Segundo jail, which is a smaller facility where she was given a private cell. However, she wasn’t able to get her restaurant-quality meals nor was she able to work on her book since prisoners weren’t allowed to have pens. Instead, she spent her weekend filing paperwork for the facility.
Fans and Reporters Met Her at the Jail
Upon her arrival at the jail facility, Zsa Zsa was met with dozens of photographers, reporters, and TV crews. Even though her arrival was supposed to be discreet, she was met by a crowd of supporters as well. Fans stood nearby with signs protesting the actress’s sentence.
Even though her makeup was taken away and she had to sleep on a “horse blanket,” Zsa Zsa said her time in jail wasn’t so bad. "I was very happily surprised", she said after her release. "Everybody was warm and nice and sweet. It was OK. The Beverly Hills police should come and take lessons from this police".
A Natural Talent
There must be something in the DNA of socialites, as they are all born with the natural ability to strike a pose. Cameras just love them, and the Gabor ladies were no exception! Even without the advanced cameras we have today, Zsa Zsa manages to look flawless!
While modern-day socialites use filters and photoshop to get the perfect picture, they lack the glamour and sophistication of vintage photos. The Kardashians and the Hiltons have nothing on the Gabor ladies!
Zsa Zsa Proves She’s Ageless
Decades later, Zsa Zsa proves to be ageless with a series of glamour shots. Taken beside the pool at her Bel Air Mansion, she stuns with her signature laid-back pose. Despite the years that go by, her lavish style never falters.
Even at 75 years old, the actress is gorgeous. No wonder she was able to land so many men, even one quite a bit younger than she was! Taken just three years after her time behind bars, it seems her jail time didn’t have any negative effects on her lifestyle.
Three Generations Of Gabors
The Gabor ladies have become icons, likely breaking records for the number of marriages between them! This vintage photo from 1955 shows three generations of Gabors at Hotel Sacher in Vienna, Austria. The black and white portrait captures a rare moment where all the ladies are pictured together.
Top row from left to right: Magda (1919 - 1997), “Mama” Jolie (1894 - 1997), Eva (1919 - 1995). Bottom row from left to right: Zsa Zsa (1917 - 2016), “Papa” Vilmos (1884 - 1962), Constance (1947 - 2015; Age 8).
Zsa Zsa’s Love of Cars
Few people know that a large part of Zsa Zsa’s lavish lifestyle was a collection of luxury vehicles. It may be hard to believe, but over the years she owned more cars than men! Her collection included a rare Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II personalized with etched windows and gold paint, among many others.
Then, of course, her Rolls-Royce Corniche made headlines when she was pulled over in 1989 and had an altercation with the officer. It continued to pop up in the news throughout her court case and then again when she ultimately went to jail.
Zsa Zsa’s Other Cars
One of the actress’s most notable cars was a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, pictured here. The luxury vehicle was gifted to her by Dominican diplomat, racecar driver, and polo player, Porfirio Rubirosa. It was given to her as a thank you for showing his nephew around Hollywood during his visit.
Strangely, it was this vehicle that she didn’t pick out herself that became the most desirable and ultimately the most valuable. The car has been estimated to be worth over $1 million.
Zsa Zsa’s Studebaker Lark
While it wasn’t nearly as luxurious as the other vehicles in her collection, Zsa Zsa often drove around in a Studebaker Lark. If you’ve never heard of these cars, it’s likely because they were only produced for seven years between 1959 and 1966 in Indiana. She may have been paid to drive this car around though, as she did appear in a commercial for Studebaker Lark.
Zsa Zsa’s commercial hilariously points out the vehicle’s features in her own unique way, using a technique that would never fly today. The highlights of her tour included the carpeted floors that won’t break your heels and a vanity mirror that allows you to keep your makeup on point.
Zsa Zsa Partied With Her Dogs
In addition to men and cars, Zsa Zsa was truly passionate about dogs. Over the years, she had a variety of poodles and Shih Tzus, whom she loved to throw parties for. She often spoke about her pups in interviews, even claiming she would make them hot dogs using her beloved hot dog machine.
At the end of her life, the actress wasn’t able to have any dogs due to her health condition. Her last dog passed away in 2011, leaving her heartbroken.
Zsa Zsa Had Some Odd Beauty Regimens
There’s no doubting that all of the Gabor sisters were drop-dead gorgeous, but few people know to what extent Zsa Zsa went through to maintain her looks. Never in public without a full face of makeup, her beauty regimens were a bit odd.
Allegedly, Zsa Zsa would whip up some of her infamous Dracula’s goulash from scratch using a recipe that included ginger snaps to maintain her glowing skin. She also claimed that she ate a small piece of green pepper every day to stay youthful. Considering she lived to nearly 100, her tricks may have worked!
Eva is Laid to Rest
The youngest Gabor sister was the first to be laid to rest. Known as the “good Gabor”, despite her ability to create just as much trouble as the best of them, the 'Green Acres' actress died at just 74 years old.
Her demise began after falling on June 21, 1995 and breaking her hip. She was admitted to the Cedars-Sinai medical center and ultimately passed away on the 4th of July. Eva’s death was caused by a combination of complications from the fall, multiple infections, and respiratory problems.