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September 23, 2021

Zsa Zsa Gabor's Tragic Final Years Included Health Issues & Nasty Battle for Her Estate While She Was Still Alive

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Zsa Zsa Gabor's career was nothing short of iconic, but her final years were drama-filled. His ninth husband, Frederic von Anhalt, didn't let anyone tell her about her only daughter's death.

Born in February 1917, Hungarian-American actress and socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor made headlines all her life – even five years after passing, when she was lavishly laid to rest.

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ZSA ZSA GABOR'S FINAL YEARS

Gabor was famous for her impressive career in the entertainment industry and her long list of lovers and husbands. After many failed marriages to actors, politicians, and businessmen, Gabor settled down with her ninth husband, Frederic von Anhalt.

Unfortunately, her final 15 years were quite tragic. In 2002, when Gabor was 85, she was involved in a severe car accident that left her partially paralyzed and unable to walk, forcing her to use a wheelchair. 

Things didn't get any easier the following years. In 2005, she suffered a stroke. In July 2010, she fell at her Bel-Air home and broke her right hip.

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Six months later, doctors discovered that her right leg gangrened, and the left one was also threatened, so they ended up amputating most of her right leg.

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Gabor, who also dealt with chronic dementia, was placed on life support somewhere in 2011. She was locked away in her mansion, unable to speak, see, or hear, before dying of a heart attack on December 18, 2016. 

According to von Anhalt, who was almost 30 years younger than Gabor when tying the knot, he performed CPR after finding her fighting for her life but couldn't save her. The last words they shared were, "I love you."

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DRAMA NEVER STOPPED

Even though Gabor was slowly dying, her only daughter Francesca Hilton – born in 1947 during the actress' marriage to Hilton Hotels founder Conrad Hilton – kept fighting over her mother's finances and care. Saying that von Anhalt and Francesca had issues would be an understatement.

In 2005, he sued Francesca on behalf of himself and Gabor after she forged her mom's signature to obtain a $2 million loan. Worse, she used Gabor's $14 million home as collateral. 

[Francesca] requested an independent conservatorship to oversee her mom's finances and health.

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Francesca's defense claimed that Gabor knew about it and gave her permission as long as the money was used to refinance the mansion and prevent a possible foreclosure. Since Gabor didn't show up in court, the lawsuit was dismissed.

Von Anhalt, famous for his flamboyant lifestyle, attracted a lot of attention in 2007 after claiming he was the father of Playboy star Anna Nicole Smith's daughter, Dannielynn Birkhead. DNA tests proved he wasn't.

Things took an unusual turn in 2011 when von Anhalt said he had completed the initial steps of donor matching and blood work so that he and Gabor could welcome a child. She was 94 years old at the time.  

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He admitted they were willing to use egg donors, artificial insemination, and surrogacy to achieve their goal. Dr. Mark Surry of the Southern California Reproductive Center was supervising the process. About the baby, von Anhalt said:

"In life, you need something to live for. If my wife passes away before me, I have nothing to live for […] I'm a retired guy. I can take care of it."

Apart from von Anhalt's wish to have something to live for, he wanted someone to carry on the Gabor name. About the whole situation, Francesca said it was "just weird."

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CONSERVATORSHIP BATTLE

In 2012, the situation between Francesca and von Anhalt got heated again after she requested independent conservatorship to oversee her mom's finances and health. 

Francesca claimed that her step-father kept Gabor isolated and heavily sedated. She wasn't sure he was handling her finances properly, either, and accused him of throwing lavish parties. 

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Although a judge granted her request, the court decided that von Anhalt himself was supposed to be Gabor's temporary conservator. Francesca probably had a different outcome in mind, but she was satisfied.

Apart from getting weekly visits without von Anhalt's presence, her step-father was ordered to provide medical records and financial reports every month.

Von Anhalt made of [Gabor's] last wish a lavish event.

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FRANCESCA'S DEATH

Von Anhalt and Francesca's legal disputes ended for good in January 2015 when Gabor's only daughter passed away in Los Angeles from an apparent heart attack or stroke. She was 67. After her passing, von Anhalt said

"Zsa Zsa is not aware of the news, and I will not let anybody get close to my wife and tell her. She will not know about it."

He added that his wife was a few weeks shy of turning 98 years old, her blood pressure was on the rise, and she was a "target for strokes," so he didn't want to share such heartbreaking news.

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After Francesca's passing, her body stayed in the morgue for days as she had no immediate family other than Gabor. Von Anhalt eventually stepped in.

He asked to investigate her death, claiming that she died by suicide. Authorities then ordered an autopsy and banned von Anhalt from claiming her body.

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THE OUTCOME

In 2013, a private investor bought Gabor's mansion but allowed the late actress and her husband to stay in the property until 2019. Shortly after Gabor's passing, von Anhalt admitted that being alone in such a big home would be "very tough." 

In July 2021, von Anhalt made headlines again after taking Gabor's ashes to their final resting place: a Hungarian burial site. It is essential to point out that she asked to be interred in Hungary in her will. 

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However, von Anhalt made of her last wish a lavish event by taking a multistop flight to Budapest filled with Champagne and caviar. He said it was her last trip, and she was used to flying first class and with such commodities.

Von Anhalt, who admitted Gabor's was not a funeral but a "celebration of life," also revealed that Budapest was the perfect resting place for her as her father was buried there. Rest in peace, legend.

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