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Zsa Zsa Gabor’s ashes make fashionably late return to Budapest for burial

In a festive memorial service five years after her death, remains of the Jewish-Hungarian actress are interred in one of her native country’s most prestigious burial grounds

Yaakov Schwartz is The Times of Israel's deputy Jewish World editor.

  • Zsa Zsa Gabor primps her hair as she leaves her hairdresser in New York on May 10, 1958. (AP Photo/John Lent)
    Zsa Zsa Gabor primps her hair as she leaves her hairdresser in New York on May 10, 1958. (AP Photo/John Lent)
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor with her ninth husband Prince Fredrick von Anhalt at her home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles after their wedding at an evening ceremony on August 14,1986. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
    Zsa Zsa Gabor with her ninth husband Prince Fredrick von Anhalt at her home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles after their wedding at an evening ceremony on August 14,1986. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
  • Jewish-Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor is memorialized and her ashes interred in Budapest's Fiume Street Cemetery. (Photo by György Konkoly-Thege)
    Jewish-Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor is memorialized and her ashes interred in Budapest's Fiume Street Cemetery. (Photo by György Konkoly-Thege)
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor strikes a glamous pose during  rehearsal for CBS-TV  'As The World Turns' on November 19, 1981, at Studio 52 at 402 E. 76th  in New York.  (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)
    Zsa Zsa Gabor strikes a glamous pose during rehearsal for CBS-TV 'As The World Turns' on November 19, 1981, at Studio 52 at 402 E. 76th in New York. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)
  • Music is played as Jewish-Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor is memorialized and her ashes interred in Budapest's Fiume Street Cemetery. (Photo by György Konkoly-Thege)
    Music is played as Jewish-Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor is memorialized and her ashes interred in Budapest's Fiume Street Cemetery. (Photo by György Konkoly-Thege)

Five years after her death at the age of 99, the ashes of Hollywood actress Zsa Zsa Gabor were interred in her native Budapest’s Fiume Street National Cemetery in a first-class ceremony consistent with her lavish lifestyle, including yellow and pink roses and musical accompaniment from one of the city’s best-known gypsy bands.

Three-quarters of the Golden Globe-winning actress’ remains were transported from Los Angeles to Budapest by her ninth and final husband, 78-year-old Prince Frederic von Anhalt, on a multinational flight with stops in London and Germany. One-quarter will remain in LA.

Though Gabor died in 2016, the interment ceremony fulfilled her final wishes of being buried in her native Hungary, where her father also rests.

Born Sari Gabor in 1917 to Jewish parents in Budapest — then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire — Zsa Zsa started her stage career in Vienna before being crowned Miss Hungary in 1936. She fled to the United States in 1941, three years before the Nazi occupation of Hungary.

Gabor quickly made a name for herself in television and on the silver screen, acting in dozens of films including the 1952 film “Moulin Rouge,” and is known as one of the last stars of Hollywood’s golden age. But the actress was perhaps best known for her diva-like lifestyle and sharp, tongue-in-cheek wit. (“I’m a great housekeeper,” she once said. “Every time I leave a man, I keep his house.”)

Hungarian Hollywood Council president Bokor Balazs said that while the global coronavirus pandemic delayed the process by nearly two years, a last-minute agreement was reached for the interment of Gabor’s ashes late last week, with his organization helping with the logistics of the burial in one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious cemeteries. Gabor is buried alongside artists, actors, writers, musicians, politicians, and other renowned personalities.

Jewish-Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor is memorialized and her ashes interred in Budapest’s Fiume Street Cemetery. (Photo by György Konkoly-Thege)

“The Hungarian Hollywood Council is a civil organization with a mission to care for Hollywood stars with a Hungarian background,” Balazs said. “The most important film studios were established by Hungarian Jews: Paramount Pictures by Adolph Zukor and 20th century Fox by William Fox — both born in Hungary.”

“Zsa Zsa Gabor is a member of this circle, and so it was important that her ashes were laid to rest here. Our organization has dedicated many plaques in the hometowns of Hungarian Hollywood celebrities, named cultural centers and cinemas after them, and helped establish museums in their honor. We will continue to do so to keep the memory of Zsa Zsa Gabor alive.”

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