From doing voiceover work for Disney Classics such as “The Aristocats”, to playing Lisa Douglas in the 1960s sitcom “Green Acres”, and selling wigs, beauty products, and clothing, the socialite and actress Eva Gabor excelled at just about everything she put her mind to. Of Hungarian-American descent, Eva was born in Budapest, Hungary on 11th February 1919 and passed away on 4th July 1995, leaving behind an incomparable legacy.
Eva, who was married and divorced five times and reportedly embarked on plenty of romantic relationships with wealthy and well-connected men, was the youngest daughter of soldier Vilmos Gabor and his jeweler wife Jolie. Both parents hailed from Hungarian-Jewish families; Eva was the first of the Gabor sisters to immigrate to the US shortly after marrying her first husband, a Swedish osteopath named Dr. Eric Drimmer, at the tender age of 18.
Eva’s first movie role was in the 1941 Paramount Pictures production “Forced Landing”. Over the 1940s and 1950s, she appeared in several feature films such as “The Last Time I Saw Paris”, “Artists and Models”, and “The Wife of Monte Cristo”. Working alongside Hollywood stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, Eva soon garnered so much public interest that she was given her own TV talk show in 1953, “The Eva Gabor Show”.
Despite the show only running for one season, Eva continued to appear in movies and TV series, and also had theatre roles, performing on the stages of Plymouth Royale, Belasco, and other iconic theatres. 1957 was a particularly busy year for the star, as she appeared in three films – “Don’t Go Near the Water”, “My Man Godfrey”, and “The Truth About Women” – and was a mystery guest in an episode of the game show “What’s My Line?”.
In 1965, Eva, who was already considered a mainstream actress, landed her most memorable role to that date as Lisa Douglas in the Paul Henning sitcom “Green Acres”. Lisa’s attorney husband, who was played by Eddie Albert, decided to leave the city life behind and took Lisa with him to a small farm in a rural community. Despite being one of the top 20 programs during its first four seasons, CBS cancelled “Green Acres” in 1971, in an effort to purge all the network’s rural-based shows.
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Even so, Eva continued to thrive in the entertainment industry, doing voiceover work as Miss Bianca in “The Rescuers” and “The Rescuers Down Under” as well as voicing Duchess in “The Aristocats”. In 1972, she launched a fashion collection with the Cuban-American fashion designer Luis Estevez, which proved to be a roaring hit.
Other ventures of Eva’s include being a panelist on “Match Game”, a game show hosted by Gene Rayburn, and playing Aunt Renee in season four of “Hart to Hart”. In 1983, she played the Grand Duchess Olga Katrina in the Broadway play “You Can’t Take It with You”. Following a lengthy hiatus, the actress tried to make a small-screen comeback in 1990 with an appearance in the pilot episode of “Close Encounters”; however, the show wasn’t picked up.
Altough choosing not to have any children, Eva was married five times. Her first wedding to Eric Valdemar Drimmer took place in London in June 1937, but they divorced less than five years later in a process that took two weeks to finalize; Eva claimed that her husband objected to her having children, whereas she wanted to “lead a simple family life”.
It didn’t take long for the actress to find love a second time, with an investment broker named Charles Isaacs. The couple walked down the aisle in September 1943 but divorced in April 1949. This time, it took Eva seven years to remarry, to the plastic surgeon John Elbert Williams, MD; however, this marriage lasted just eleven months.
In October 1959, Eva married the textile manufacturer Richard Brown in Las Vegas. The unusual ceremony took place at the Flamingo Hotel; in later years, Richard became a writer and director. The couple divorced in June 1973, with the proceedings taking place in Santa Monica, California. Last but not least, Eva married the aerospace executive and businessman Frank Gard Jameson Sr. in California’s Vivian Webb Chapel. The union between Eva and Frank lasted a decade, with the socialite also becoming a stepmother to his four children.
Despite being married for much of her adult life, Eva also had a long term on-and-off affair with her “Don’t Go Near the Water” co-star Glenn Ford. The clandestine lovers allegedly dated between their marriages, although many fans of the actors think that it must’ve been impossible: Glenn was already married to his first wife Eleanor Powell when he began his affair with Eva in 1957, and he would go on to remarry three times after his 1959 divorce. Eva and Glenn were reportedly set to marry in the early 1970s, but decided not to do so at the last minute.
Following her divorce from Frank, Eva became involved with the TV producer Merv Griffin, with the relationship lasting until her death. Despite Merv being married from 1958 to 1976 and having a child, rumors of his supposed homosexuality led to many thinking that his relationship with Eva was merely a cover-up.
Death, Net Worth
Eva died in Los Angeles of respiratory failure and pneumonia on Independence Day 1995. Shortly before her death, she had been vacationing in Mexico and fell in a bathtub, which caused health complications. Her funeral was held at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills a week later.
Eva was the youngest Gabor, but died before her sisters and mother. Magda and Jolie passed away in 1997, whereas Zsa Zsa died of cardiac arrest in December 2016. Eva is buried near her niece, Francesca Hilton, and her friend and former co-star Eddie Albert in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
At the time of her death, Eva was reportedly worth an impressive $30 million, thanks to her thriving business ventures and decades-long Hollywood career.