Zsa Zsa Gabor, An Icon Of Camp, Glitz And Glam, Dies At 99

Zsa Zsa Gabor — the lady who most likely inspired the term “well-known for being famous” — died on Sunday, according to multiple media outlets. She was 99 years old, just two months shy of her 100th birthday.

NPR has not independently confirmed the reports.

Buxom and blond, vampy and campy, the Hungarian-born screen siren primarily contributed to cultural touchstones such as The Adore Boat, The Naked Gun 2 1/two and Hollywood Squares — where she answered (or, far more accurately, could not answer) inquiries about Cheez Whiz.

Zsa Zsa Gabor in 1954. Hulton Archive/Getty Pictures hide caption

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

But it would be a grave mistake to trivialize Gabor’s achievements.

“She is one particular of the most essential figures of the late 20th century in terms of pondering about celebrity, pondering about girls,” says Kirsten Pullen, a professor at Texas A&ampM University.

Pullen is not joking. As far back as the 1950s, when women have been anticipated to be decorous, Gabor sought and got continual press for her juicy hookups, her fabulous bling and her public antics. She could dominate a newsreel about a movie premiere — for a movie she wasn’t even in — just by showing up in a diaphanous gown. She was arguably the prototype for today’s Kim Kardashians and Paris Hiltons.

(In fact, Gabor and Hilton had household ties: Gabor was when married to Conrad Hilton, who is Paris Hilton’s excellent-grandfather.)

“You cannot make this stuff up,” Pullen says wryly. “Whether or not we believe it’s excellent to be well-known for becoming popular, she is the a single who truly set the template for that.”

Gabor followed her sister Eva from Hungary to Hollywood in the 1940s. Zsa Zsa scored some little movie parts from large movie directors — Orson Welles and John Huston among them — and was also featured in some movies probably greatest forgotten, such as Queen of Outer Space.

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But if she wasn’t recognized for her skilled acting, dancing or singing, Gabor was an irrepressible performer — and she excelled at playing herself, when endless rounds of Hollywood gossip and publicity created her personal persona larger than any character.

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Zsa Zsa Gabor strikes a glamorous pose for the duration of a rehearsal for CBS’s As The World Turns in 1981. Mary Lederhandler/AP hide caption

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Mary Lederhandler/AP

She had charm, which created her jokes about marrying for income rather than romance a lot more palatable proper when women had been starting to demand more monetary manage. Her oft-stated fondness for sex dented classic expectations of passive femininity, Pullen says: “She paved the way for the sexual revolution.”

And when Gabor slapped a policeman who pulled her more than in 1989, she parlayed the incident into a complete-blown comeback, with out any apparent aid from mangers or publicists. The incident place her back on the speak show circuit, exactly where she chattered merrily about the challenges of keeping a beauty regimen in the slammer.

Even as an older woman, Gabor tended her image as the glamorous starlet who married some thing like 10 occasions. She threw out lines like, “I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man, I preserve his residence.”

But she also, ironically enough, had this to say about Paris Hilton: “I consider she’s rather silly. She does also several items for publicity.”

Arts &amp Life : NPR

Gay Glam Comes To HBO

Almost famous, Seventies singer, Jobriath (born: Bruce Wayne Campbell). The latest episode of HBO's Vinyl has introduced a character seemingly based on his career.

Nearly renowned, Seventies singer, Jobriath (born: Bruce Wayne Campbell). The newest episode of HBO’s Vinyl has introduced a character seemingly primarily based on his career. Benno Friedman/Courtesy of Kieran Turner hide caption

toggle caption Benno Friedman/Courtesy of Kieran Turner

HBO’s Vinyl offers a lot of incentive for pleasurable hate watching, from its macho take on gender relations to its sub-Sopranos murder subplot. For music mavens, the glee and groans are prompted by the show’s haphazard therapy of the history of rock and roll — and hip hop and disco and Donny Osmond. The fake cameos from the likes of Alice Cooper and Gram Parsons are one particular source of fun then there are the show’s amalgamated “original” characters, whose trajectories can be granted much more license (they never happened, after all) but can still get remotes thrown at Tv sets. The show’s home band, the Nasty Bits, recalls New York punk originator Richard Hell fronting Cleveland’s The Dead Boys, which is plausible, but anachronistically function a British singer and, even weirder, an African-American manager – a nod to Hell’s former bandmate Ivan Julian? Or, even a lot more obscurely, the Detroit proto-punk band Death? Most likely just a plot point. The funkmeister Hannibal had a disco name but his style was pure Rick James, his stardom predating the Superfreak’s by five years. And do not get the haters started on all these white music bizzers almost discovering hip hop. When is that Sylvia Robinson biopic coming to set the record straight?

This week’s episode honed in on an additional of the most colorful 1970s rock stories whilst promising, once again, to pull it slightly astray. At a diner, the doghouse’d and disillusioned Ameican Century Records promotions man Zak Yankovich sits across from the dewy Gary Giombetta, his plate of breakfast meats hunting dated next to Gary’s cantaloupe with cottage cheese. Zak located Gary in his daughter’s bar mitzvah band, singing a David Bowie song while the waiters broke down the chairs at Leonard’s of Fantastic Neck. (Tell me that wasn’t Leonard’s as for that version of “Life on Mars?,” it was actually sung by R&ampB class act Trey Songz.) Zak desires to make Gary the new Bowie, partly since the Starman not too long ago spurned a small provide from the label after Zak bungled their 1st meeting. Following listening raptly as the kid waxes on about cosmic really like, then launches into a newly-written melody in a falsetto that puts him closer to Tim Buckley than Bowie, Zak hastily signs Gary to a probably terrible contract. Later, he nurses a nightcap even though doodling on Gary’s theater-nerd headshot. He draws a Ziggy lightning streak more than a single eye, crosses out the Italian name and writes “XAVIER.” Reduce to Scott Levitt, the company’s lawyer, gazing bisexually at Gary’s photo although a female companion sleeps naked nearby.

There is just no way about it: Gary, morphed by Zak into Xavier, is going to grow to be Jobriath. At least he’ll be the slightly-off Vinyl version of that great, lost boundary-smashing hope of 1970s rock, who for a shining moment in 1974 became the most visible gay man in common music. Actor Douglas Smith looks a lot like the real musician and, as he proved for a moment in this episode, can match the keening tenor that practically ruled the planet. If he’s given enough screen time, he could embody one particular of the most outstanding largely-forgotten figures in pop.

Born Bruce Wayne Campbell in 1946 and signed to Elektra Records for the then-exorbitant sum of $ 500,000, Jobriath was Svengali’d by promoter and manager Jerry Brandt, who’d founded New York’s Electric Circus nightclub and guided Carly Simon’s early career. (Brandt identified Jobriath’s demo in Clive Davis’s slush pile at Columbia Records, although he told the press he and the vocalist/actor/mime had cruised each and every other in a bar.) Not a wedding singer but a seasoned actor who’d starred in numerous major productions of Hair, Jobriath immediately took to Brandt’s vision. He became a self-described ‘true fairy’ and ‘space clown’ who, unlike Bowie, was in fact component of the post-Stonewall liberation world, and in contrast to Queen’s Freddie Mercury, had no qualms about clearly detailing his queer dreams while playing a glam mix of show tune melodies, singer-songwriterly intimacy and vintage rock and roll beats.


Jobriath should have been a superstar. He would have been, if income alone could have created it so. Elektra genuinely went overboard on him: Jobriath recorded his debut album at Electric Ladyland studios with Hendrix’s producer Eddie Kramer at the boards, guitarist Peter Frampton and Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones in the band, with the label mounting a large media campaign, which known as for Jobriath’s nude physique to be rendered as a roman statue and reproduced on Time Square billboards. Brandt and Jobriath gave joint interviews and earned significant coverage in Andy Warhol’s Interview, the New York Occasions and Rolling Stone. A tour was planned – a $ 200,000 extravaganza featuring a “Kama Sutra altar” and Jobriath’s re-enactment of the death scene from the 1961 Biblical epic King of Kings. “Never you really feel the pressure of this publicity?” a reporter asked Jobriath in December 1973. “I adore every single minute of it,” he replied. “If I had any doubts I am going to be dynamite, I’d overlook it.” Brandt, sounding quite significantly like an American Century executive, told yet another reporter that they were merely performing what the purchasing public demanded: “The only point that is maintaining us alive is sex. I am selling sex. Sex and professionalism.”

Brandt and Jobriath could sell openly gay sex, or at least partially unclothed gay eroticism, simply because of the distinctively experimental mood of America in 1973. Vinyl shows the era’s caveman side – men leering at women and grabbing their breasts at a moment’s notice, backing them against furniture in offices, camera darkrooms, or club bathrooms. Frustratingly, the show merely hints at the women’s liberation movement that led those female conquests to both explore their own desires and fend off the far more cretinous advances of those old-college guys. We did see Vinyl antihero Richie Finestra reading a book by Esalen associate Abraham Maslow, but not much else has been completed with the self-actualization movement that led to ideal-sellers like 1972’s Open Marriage and the polymorphous adventures that took place in erotic retreats like California’s Sandstone or New York’s swingers clubs the St. Mark’s Baths (gay) and Plato’s Retreat (nominally straight). And the show hasn’t however ventured into the moment’s other massive shift, toward gay liberation, that led to a wave of Pride parades, Central park dance-ins, and artistic ventures like San Francisco’s Cockettes troupe, which incorporated a young Sylvester. The ever-canny Bowie channeled all of this into brilliant music that furthered liberation in the mainstream. But it was Jobriath who may have turn into its a lot more radical conductor.

Alternatively, he crashed and burned, spectacularly. His music proved simultaneously behind and ahead of its time: also show tunes-y for rock radio, as well far out even for most progressive rock fans. Many gay music lovers were currently turning their ears toward disco, embracing funky tracks like Barrabas’s “Wild Safari,” heard in a (seemingly completely straight) Bronx club in this Vinyl episode’s final scene. Maybe sensing that Jobriath’s excellent story wasn’t going to connect on a mass level, Elektra pulled the plug on his tour, and he and Brandt fell out. An abbreviated jaunt ended fabulously but smokily on September 20, 1974 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, of all places. Jobriath French-kissed his guitarist onstage in front of a crowd complete of students and drag queens, and received 4 encores, even right after a malfunctioning motor in the hall’s cooling technique caused the fire alarms to go off.

Jobriath returned to his original identity and became a cabaret singer, calling himself Cole Berlin and living at New York’s Chelsea Hotel, one more favorite Vinyl place. Punitive contracts kept his career below wraps he became ill with a illness affecting gay men in the city, newly identified as AIDS, and died of it in 1983. Right now, Jobriath is only fitfully remembered. He was the subject a poignant 2012 documentary, Jobriath A.D. His albums are obtainable on streaming services, and a new collection of unreleased material was issued in 2014. However even today, his music hasn’t captured ears the way other major figure in queer pop history have.

Perhaps that is due to the fact Jobriath was really outré, in ways that still make some men and women uncomfortable. His piano-based songs are confrontational and cosmic, terrible as background music and challenging to blend into a mix. Jobriath was never ever spectral, in no way a chameleon. For all of his flamboyance and Brandt’s schtick, he did not match in with anyone else’s trends, the way Bowie or even the more resolutely odd Mercury could. Jobriath, though in numerous ways a record label creation, showed the planet what it was like to be out in many different senses. Will Vinyl allow its proxy to do the identical? Far more likely he’ll basically be a conduit for one more narrative about label overspending within the music sector crapshoot. But the guarantee is there, in the scrawl of the name Zak concocts. Possibly “Xavier” will be a savior for Vinyl, even if Jobriath could not eventually fulfill the complete dream of freedom in the 1970s.

Arts &amp Life : NPR