This past week Zsa Zsa Gabor died just shy of becoming a centenarian
■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
Before I relocated to Hemet, I spent 25 years in Hollywood, the glitter capital of the world, where I became part of celebrity itself as the press secretary to the late film star Jayne Mansfield. Through Jayne, and my later career as a writer, I met, wrote about, and mingled with dozens of celebrities—among them, the Gabor sisters, Eva and Zsa Zsa.
This past week Zsa Zsa Gabor died. She was closing in on becoming a centenarian. Besides Jayne, Zsa Zsa was at the time the first real celebrity I had met. Not long after Jayne employed me to be her press secretary, she hosted a party in the Pink Palace. Zsa Zsa was a guest. She wouldn’t have known me from Huck Finn. Most celebrities do not take to some young kid they’ve never seen before.
Not so this wonderful lady of the silver screen, known all over the world for her glamour and mostly just for being Zsa Zsa Gabor. I found myself sitting on a small sofa with Zsa Zsa as a sofa-mate. For almost an hour she ignored everyone and held me in conversation. We spoke of our backgrounds, our homes and our arrival in Hollywood. She said we had similar childhoods—both poor—both ending up in Hollywood. I felt as though I had known her forever. I found her to be nothing like what I’d read about her in the fan magazines. She was warm, intelligent, gracious and, of course, beautiful.
Over a 10-year span, I had occasion to be with her on numerous occasions, one of which remains fresh in my memory. She was having a party and phoned me late that afternoon to invite me. When I arrived at her door, a security guard asked for my invitation. When I told him the hostess had called me early that day, he laughed. “Boy, I’ve heard them all from gate-crashers, but you’re pretty good kid—but not good enough. Get out of here.”
Zsa Zsa was greeting some guests in the foyer and intervened. “Rusty is my friend. What’s wrong with you?”
The security guy apologized, and I had a wonderful evening—all because Zsa Zsa Gabor cared about her friends, not just the celebrity friends.
I have always counted her to be a friend and this is one friend who will miss her dearly while remembering her great sense of humor and lack of pretentiousness. Rest in peace sweet Zsa Zsa; you’ll always be my dear friend.