Early life and career
Gabor was born in Budapest, Hungary, the youngest of three daughters of Vilmos Gábor (died 1962), a soldier, and his wife Jolie (born Janka Tilleman; 1896–1997), a jeweler. Her parents were both from Jewish families. She was the first of the sisters to immigrate to the US, shortly after her first marriage, to a Swedish osteopath, Dr. Eric Drimmer, whom she married in 1939 when she was 20 years old.
Her first movie role was in the US in Forced Landing at Paramount Pictures. During the 1950s she appeared in several “A”-movies, including The Last Time I Saw Paris, starring Elizabeth Taylor; and Artists and Models, which featured Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. These roles were again bit parts. In 1953, she was given her own television talk show, The Eva Gabor Show, which ran for one season (1953–54). Through the rest of the 1950s and early 1960s she appeared on television and in movies. She appeared in one episode of the mystery series Justice and was on the game show What's My Line? as the "mystery challenger." Her film appearances during this era included a remake of My Man Godfrey, Gigi and It Started with a Kiss.
In 1965, Gabor got the role for which she is best remembered: Lisa Douglas, whose attorney husband Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert) decides to leave the "rat race" of city life. He buys a farm in a rural community, forcing Lisa to leave her beloved big-city urban life, in the Paul Henning sitcom Green Acres, which aired on CBS. Green Acres was set in Hooterville, the same backdrop for Petticoat Junction (1963–70), and would occasionally cross over with its sister sitcom. Despite proving to be a ratings hit, staying in the top 20 for its first four seasons, Green Acres, along with another sister show, The Beverly Hillbillies, was cancelled in 1971 in the CBS network's "rural purge"— a policy to get rid of the network's rural-based television shows.
Gabor later did voice-over work for Disney movies, providing the European-accented voices of Duchess in The Aristocats, and Miss Bianca in The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under, as well as the Queen of Time in the Sanrio film Nutcracker Fantasy. She was a panelist on the Gene Rayburn-hosted Match Game. From 1983–84, she was on the Match Game Hollywood Squares Hour starring Gene Rayburn and Jon Bauman.
In 1983 she reunited with Eddie Albert on Broadway as the Grand Duchess Olga in Katrina You Can't Take It with You. In 1990, she attempted a TV series comeback in the CBS sitcom pilot Close Encounters; the pilot aired as a special that summer, but did not make it to series status. She toured post-communist Hungary after a 40-year absence on an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
In 1972 she launched her eponymous fashion collection, with Luis Estevez, a Cuban-born, Coty-award-winning fashion designer.
Marriages and Relationships
Eva Gabor was married five times. She had no children:
- Eric Valdemar Drimmer, a Swedish-born masseur turned osteopath and psychologist. They wed in London in June 1937, and divorced in Los Angeles, California, on February 25, 1942 (the divorce was finalized on March 6); Gabor claimed cruelty, saying, "I wanted to have babies and lead a simple family life but my husband objected to my having children".
- Charles Isaacs, an American investment broker. They married on September 27, 1943, and were divorced on April 2, 1949.
- John Elbert Williams, MD, a plastic surgeon. They married on April 8, 1956 and were divorced on March 20, 1957.
- Richard Brown, a textile manufacturer, who later became a writer and director. They married at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 4, 1959, and divorced in Santa Monica, California, in June 1973.
- Frank Gard Jameson Sr., an aerospace executive and former vice president of Rockwell International. They married in the Vivian Webb Chapel of The Webb School, Claremont, Californiaon September 21, 1973. The couple divorced in 1983. Gabor became a stepmother to Jameson's four children.
After her final marriage, Gabor was involved in a public relationship with TV producer Merv Griffin until her death. It was rumored that this was a platonic relationship to hide Griffin's suspected homosexuality.
Gabor died in Los Angeles on July 4, 1995, from respiratory failure and pneumonia, following a fall in a bathtub in Mexico, where she had been on vacation. Her funeral was held on July 11, 1995, at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills.
The youngest sister, Eva predeceased her elder sisters and her mother. Eldest sister Magda and mother Jolie Gabor both died two years later, in 1997. Elder sister Zsa Zsa died in 2016.
Gabor is interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery and is buried just yards from both her niece, Francesca Hilton, and her friend and former co-star Eddie Albert.
|Opening Date||Closing Date||Title||Role||Theatre|
|January 24, 1950||July 14, 1951||The Happy Time||Mignonette||Plymouth|
|March 26, 1956||March 31, 1956||Little Glass Clock||Gabrielle||John Golden|
|January 31, 1958||February 8, 1958||Present Laughter||Joanna Lyppiatt||Belasco|
|March 18, 1963||November 9, 1963||Tovarich||Tatiana|
(succeeded Vivien Leigh October 21)
|April 4, 1983||January 1, 1984||You Can't Take It with You||The Grand Duchess Olga Katrina|
(succeeded Colleen Dewhurst)
- Forced Landing (1941) - Johanna Van Deuren
- New York Town (1941) - Minor Role (uncredited)
- Pacific Blackout (1941) - Marie Duval
- Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) - Eva Gabor (uncredited)
- A Royal Scandal (1945) - Countess Demidow (uncredited)
- The Wife of Monte Cristo (1946) - Mme. Lucille Maillard
- Song of Surrender (1949) - Countess Marina
- Love Island (1952) - Sarna
- Paris Model (1953) - Gogo Montaine
- The Mad Magician (1954) - Claire Ormond
- Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl (1954) - Judith Duvall
- The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) - Lorraine Quarl
- Artists and Models (1955) - Sonia / Mrs. Curtis
- The Truth About Women (1957) - Louise Tiere
- My Man Godfrey (1957) - Francesca Gray
- Don't Go Near the Water (1957) - Deborah Aldrich
- Touch of Evil (1958) - Stripper sitting at bar (uncredited)
- Gigi (1958) - Liane d'Exelmans
- It Started with a Kiss (1959) - Marquesa Marion de la Rey
- A New Kind of Love (1963) - Felicienne Courbeau
- Youngblood Hawke (1964) - Fannie Prince
- The Aristocats (1970) - Duchess (voice)
- The Rescuers (1977) - Miss Bianca (voice)
- Nutcracker Fantasy (1979) - Queen of Time (voice)
- The Princess Academy (1987) - Countess Von Pupsin
- The Rescuers Down Under (1990) - Miss Bianca (voice)
- Tales of Tomorrow (1951 episode "The Invader") American anthology SciFi series performed & broadcast live. - appeared as Laura
- The Eva Gabor Show (1953) - Herself (host)
- Justice (1954–55; 2 episodes: "The Blackmailer", "The Intruder")
- What's My Line? (November 17, 1957) Season No. 9, Episode No. 12 (overall episode #389) - Mystery Guest
- Five Fingers (1959; episode: "Station Break") - Maria Vodnay
- Harrigan and Son (1960–61), two appearances as "Lillian Lovely"
- Green Acres (1965–71) as Lisa Douglas
- Here's Lucy (1968; 1st season, episode No. 7) - Eva Von Gronyitz
- Wake Me When the War Is Over (1969) - Baroness Marlene
- Match Game (1973–82) - recurring panelist
- Tattletales (1975, with husband Frank Jameson)
- Ellery Queen (1975 episode: "The Adventure of the Blunt Instrument") - Magda Szomony
- Fantasy Island (1981 episode: "My Late Lover/Sanctuary")
- Hart to Hart (1982 episode: "With This Hart I Thee Wed") - Renee
- The Edge of Night (1983) - cast member
- Return to Green Acres (1990) - Lisa Douglas
- Close Encounters (1990) - Eva Hill
- The Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies (1993) - herself
- Eva Gabor appears in This Is Your Life