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Did The Gabor Sisters Inspire The Kardashian Sisters?

Updated on March 13, 2017
Eva Gabor Publicity shot,
Eva Gabor Publicity shot,

Green Acres opening

What does Eva Gabor have in common with Kim Kardashian? More than you think!

Before the Kardashian sisters and their exotic beauty, were the exquisite Gabor sisters and many who lived during what is called the golden age of Hollywood, knew them well! The Gabor sisters were what the tabloid loved to talk about just like how social media seems to be captured by anything Kim Kardashian or her sisters have to do or say. People couldn't figure out then what made the Gabor sisters so famous just like they can't grasp why Kardashian gossip seem to always trend the internet now! Just like Kardashians, The Gabor sisters were known for their beauty and quick wit. They emigrated to the US in the mid 1930’s as their mom, Jolie, had Hollywood aspirations for them. I would imagine she’s be one of the first people to pitch A&E for a reality show. She was the drive behind her daughter’s success and marriages Just like Chris Kardashian seems to have helped her daughters find their fame. Merv Griffin, a longtime friend and companion of Eva Gabor has said, “Eva and her sisters lived to please their mama, they put themselves under immense pressure to get her approval. Mama played them life a great violin. She also knew how to come between them to cause trouble. The sisters were very competitive and their mama sometimes egged that on!” Funny how some of that seems to be featured in the Kardashian dynamics!!!

The camera and the tabloids loved Eva just like they seem to never get enough of Kim Kardashian! She was a magnet to them and they were to her. She sold the papers and increased TV ratings just like Kim does nowadays!

Zsa Zsa Gabor was a regular fixture on the late show with Johnny Carson while Eva was best known for playing a socialite living on a farm in the 1960’s hit “Green Acres.” Acres is still seen in reruns and has stood the test of time when it comes to comedic writing as with the Lucy show. Speaking of Lucy. Here’s a link to clip from one ‘I Love Lucy’ episode that I can imagine must have imitated life too! Many say that Eva stole the scene in real life, as did her sisters, whenever she entered a room, no matter how crowded. Some believe that she became famous as much from her acting as from being one of the Gabor sisters. Lucy learns what it’s like to room with a celebrity when Eva Gabor becomes her hospital roommate. Lucy is suffering a broken leg, Eva a mysterious foot injury.

Unlike her sisters, Eva really cared about her acting and loved to be acknowledged. She was insecure when it comes to her talent because of it. She was always looking for that juicy part but lamented that only 'comedic light roles' were offered.

I met Eva Gabor when I was a rookie journalist but became friends with her, years later, and lived for a couple of years in one of her guesthouses when I was getting a divorce. Even though, she was only 5”3, she managed instantly to fill a room with her presence. You simply couldn’t ignore her and if you did she’d manage to get your attention anyway! It's her wit, her disarming talent that keeps her in reruns tunnels! She'd be so pleasantly surprised by that. And, she’d be the first one to appreciate that. Her appearance in an I Love Lucy episode seems to illustrate that.

Not too many people know, that Eva was a true entrepreneur. In addition to running a multi-million dollar wig company, she participated in many pre-production meetings, and enjoyed voicing her opinion about scenes and characters. The woman was smart just like Kim Kardashian is at branding herself and knew what best worked for her, and what didn't, whether in business or on the screen. I would walk in and see her discussing dialogue issues with writers from CBS or Columbia Pictures. She would casually usher me in and introduce me as the "My personal talented kid writer". That always made me smile and for some reason made me believe in myself a little more. She had an uncanny ability to make you at ease in your own skin.

During the 1960's, Eva returned to Broadway in the romantic comedy, “A New Kind of Love” Again the reviews were so positive that she would later on be cast in the motion picture version with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. One day, she was reminiscing about being on Broadway and getting good reviews, (some attribute the critical acclaim gotten for “The Happy Time” as a prelude to her guest television roles and the Eva Gabor Show.) and brought me an old autographed playbill of the Broadway show, You Can't Take It With You. I remember gasping with astonishment at its pristine condition. The slip indicating that night's lead role sub, was still in there. She simply smiled and said, “I got good reviews in this one and I kept it all these years. I know you understand why! So, you can have it, Darling!” She starred in it (her last Broadway appearance) for two months in 1983, replacing Colleen Dewhurst."

Well, you will find below a picture of that needlepoint cushion. I still have it just like that playbill! The playbill is still hanging in my office and it makes me smile when I glance at it. It reminds me of Eva and her struggle to be taken seriously as an actress. I look at it, and her positive energy and drive come to mind as well as her words of encouragement, “Darling, you can do it! You’re smart and so talented, you don’t need anybody! When you work hard like you do! It will happen!” Looking back, I wonder if someone else said those same words to her! It was the motto of her life as she never took anything for granted. Sadly despite the accolades, the confident facade, I was never sure whether Eva, believed that she was finally taken seriously, or not, as an actress.

When people confused Eva with one of her sisters especially Zsa Zsa, she’d be depressed for hours. Even though, similar when it comes to multi marriages, Zsa Zsa's divorces, legal troubles and temper tantrums gave her a more tabloid gripping presence, legal troubles gave her the more colorful reputation. Gabor said in a 1990 interview, "Why should we be linked together, darling? That annoys the hell out of me. Because we have very different lives and what is white for her is black for me. Of course, she's my sister and I love her." And, is credited for adding, "Marriage is too interesting an experiment to be tried only once or twice." history of the sister’s multi-marriages biography depicts their history

Even though Eva was known for her naiveté and for playing the slightly goofy Lisa Douglas on Green Acres, CBS sitcom that aired from 1965 to 1971, that paraded around a farm in feathery negligees, and perfectly coiffed super blond, she was a very astute business woman and owned a major multimillion dollar wig company. She died with an estimate net worth of $30 Million, a fortune mainly attributed to her business and entrepreneurial savvy.

Despite being best known for playing Lisa, Gabor had a movie career too, with parts in "A Royal Scandal" (1945), "The Wife of Monte Cristo"(1946), "The Last Time I Saw Paris" (1954), "Artists and Models" (1955), "The Truth About Women" (1956), "Don’t go Near the Water" (1957), a remake of "My Man Godfrey" (1957), "Gigi"(1958) and "A New Kind of Love" (1963). Later on she enjoyed voicing over Miss Bianca on the animated films "The Rescuers" and "The Rescuers Down Under." Animation was close to her heart and I remember how in love she was with Cubbie Blue. And, she wanted me to come up with a similar character just for her. She offered to take, whatever I’d dream up, to Disney and offered to speak with Frank Wells. Weird that I remember that man’s name! She’d see me and ask, “Darling, did you come up with a Cubbie Blue for me?” And, I’d roll my eyes and she’s laugh harder!

Even though Eva’s name seemed to always conjure up glamor and extravagant lifestyles, she was happiest good deal hunting. And, I really mean, sale deals and sample stores! I laughed when I heard famed celebrity designer, Nolan Miller describe his working relationship with Eva and her love for unique tailormade designer flash, and a store called Loemans.

“I adored Eva. We worked together for many years. Later on, our working relationship became a friendship that I really valued. She wasn’t silly. She was a very smart lady. Not so smart with the men of her life. Her home was incredibly elegant. Anything that she needed I would do.” Miller shares when Eva discovered a store called Loemans as the store would buy designer samples, pack up in huge boxes for them to pick from”. “Eva was a size 8 and the sample sizes were 2 and she’d simply ask me to do my magic and tailor them to her size.” I smile at that as Eva could get anyone to change things around for her. I sometimes wonder whether she did understand fully well what was entailed in changing a size 2 into an 8 just like what was entailed in coming up with an animation idea tailor-made for her. She’d bat her eyelashes and sprinkle in a few ‘darlings’ and you find yourself doing what she wanted.

I happen to have my own Loehmann’s story. I didn’t know about Eva’s love for that store. I wanted to get a new outfit to wear to an Oscar party and I decided to check the back room at Loehmann’s. I come home and I see her waiting for me to see what I had purchased. She was like a kid at a candy store. She wanted to know the price of the Oscar de La Renta suit I had bought. “OMG, what a great find! Did they have gowns that I might wear to my next dinner with Merv? (In 1990 Eva and television personality and entrepreneur Merv Griffin were frequent companions) Why didn’t you take me with you?” She exclaimed and I promised to do just that knowing fully well that I would never ask her to tag along on my Loehmann’s designer hunting trips on a budget! She was disarmingly charming that way. We did go to the movies together and without fail she’d be recognized every step of the way. I only had to imagine her with me at Loehmann’s!

Many people will be surprised to find out that Eva was a huge animal rights supporter. She had a menagerie of pets, a couple of dogs and a cat. All rescues! I remember how she dragged me for hours through Bel-Air and Beverly Hills to look for her cat. He hadn’t come home for a few days. We walked up mansion driveways, one after the other, and she’d ring doorbell, introduce herself as if she really needed to. And, I would watch people’s face light up with a smile as soon as she’d start worryingly describing her cat! They would look at me and back at her as if expecting Candid Camera to pop out of the bushes. Maybe they didn’t expect a star to be so candid and approachable or maybe they didn’t expect a Gabor to really pound the pavement looking for her cat. Eddie Albert would be pleasantly surprised by that as he was an avid environment and animal activist. Both Nolan Miller and costar Eddie Albert describe her fetish with feathers. She loved them on everything. “She loved to take feathers from one negligee and stick them on another!” said Miller and I had seen her parade around the house in them too. Funny enough, I guess you can’t really picture her in fleece pajamas. I was surprised the first time I went upstairs to wish her goodnight and found her really looking like a fairy princess with a yellow (she loved that color) silk tied around her hair and neck and a feathered negligee at her bedside! I read somewhere that Albert shared an exchange that has the Eva stamp all over it. He told an interviewer that he had gotten back from given a lecture on the harmful environmental effects of DDT and griped at his costar, “I’d appreciate you not wearing that thing you have on in front of the camera!” pointing at her glamourous feathered outfit. Most likely a Nolan Miller. She reportedly turned around in utter surprise and said, “Oh, but it’s so elegant and beautiful,” to which he barked, “Yes, it caused a lot of birds to die. It’s full of feathers, and all the ladies who see you on screen are going to want to buy one just like it!” With disarming candor, Eva responded, “Eddie, feathers don’t come from birds.” Surprised Albert simply asked, “Well, where do feathers come from?” And, reportedly Eva retorted unflinchingly, Pillows, darling, pillow!” Albert laments to that adding that she swore to him that she wasn’t teasing! And, I do see that as that’s what I call a ‘Gabor Answer!”

Eva appreciated people who appreciated her and maybe that’s why she was quick to recognize talent in others and be supportive. Right after I had researched something for her on a project, she comes back from Texas with a hand stitched pillow. “She carried it in her lap the entire flight! She was too worried about it getting dirty.” Lamented Camille, her assistant. “This handstitched cushion reminded me of you and I had to buy for you. For some reason I see you and I picture a European princess in disguise and I thought a princess ought to have something like this in her room!” These words were so cute and unexpected and as you can see, I still have the needlepoint pillow. It doesn’t match any of my furniture but manages to move with me wherever I go.

A&E biography about the Gabor sisters

Eva Gabor Cute Quotes

It seems fitting to end this article with a few cool Gabor quotes;

“I’m a workaholic. Before long I’m traveling on my nervous energy alone. This is incredibly exhausting.” This is so true. Even in her seventies Eva traveled internationally finding herself in 2 or 3 cities in a week.

“Marriage is too interesting an experiment to be tried only once.”

“I was the first actress in the family and I am still the only actress in the family. I shouldn’t be saying it, but it slipped out!”

“If a man is truly in love, the most beautiful woman in the world couldn’t take him away. Maybe for a few days, but not forever.”

“After all the work I’ve done, why should I suddenly be treated as bona fide actress?

“I have to be up with the chickens every day and go to work on my body. I hate it, but I do it.”

“I believe in loyalty. When a woman reaches an age she likes, she should stick with it.”

“I learned early on that you only have so much energy to give. You have to spend it correctly.”

“I was born to act and life itself is the greatest part.”

“I should have been smart enough to stay happy. But my ambition ruled my life.”

“All any girl needs, at any time in history, is simple velvet and basic diamonds.”

“I ask myself more questions than Hamlet as I ponder which shoes to wear.”

needlepoint cushion from Eva Gabor

Needlepoint cushion from Eva
Needlepoint cushion from Eva | Source

What made the sisters so famous?

Do you see similarities between the Gabor and Kardashian sisters?

See results

autographed playbill of YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU



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    • RandaHandler profile imageAUTHOR

      Randa Awn Handler 

      20 months ago from USA

      Thanks Ruby and Paula for your comments! I heard the gossip too about Merv so did Eva. She'd roll her eyes at some of them in my presence but would say that it was up to Merv to talk about them and not her. All I know is that, they enjoyed each other's company even away from the cameras and the press. They had quiet dinners together and traveled together. So, their friendship wasn't 'for show'. The most charming trait about Eva was that she'd tell you how she felt no matter what. Sometimes that 'truthful honesty' was interpreted as being a bit of a snob. And, the reason I posted this article is because, I feel, that during the golden age of Hollywood, stars were schooled and groomed. Something has been lost nowadays with reality TV stars and overnight trending successes. It's sad when people think that finding notoriety with a scandalous act will lead to fame. Eva's mom pushed her daughters but also sent them to the best schools, tried to equip them with skills to go along with their beauty. Their quick wit, talent and survivalist skills helped them linger on the scene more than 15 minutes! And, that's why 'Green Acres' just like 'I Love Lucy' would always be circling the reruns tunnels!!!

    • fpherj48 profile image


      20 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Let me get this out of the way.....It is not "gossip" about Merv Griffin. A brief search will confirm this.

      Anyway, I suppose many would find similarities in the Gabor sisters and Kardashians. Personally, I see little.

      The Gabor sisters were very likeable, they had some talent that they used well and behaved themselves in their private lives. They also had a knack for comedy, which is always a plus when you're in the public eye. I loved "Green Acres"...Eva was the perfect Lisa!! She made that program as popular as it was.

      The Kardashian sisters? I have so little positive to say about those publicity pigs, I'll just end by saying this.....The Kardashians, including their delusional mother, should be ashamed of themselves for all that they're "Known for." My opinion, short & sweet.....

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      20 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I found this to be interesting and entertaining. The Gabor sisters were all beautiful and had talent. I read that Merv Griffin was gay. I'm not sure if that's the truth or just gossip. I like her quotes. She was full of herself, but truthful. Thanks for sharing your time with Eva.


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