- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 14, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Zsa Zsa Gabor’s celebrity was always more about winning attention than winning film roles. But now, the ailing 94-year-old diva’s final fade is being upstaged by a real-life Hollywood soap opera featuring a family fractured by fame, fortune, deceit and just plain weirdness.

As the former socialite and actress lies motionless _ unable to eat, barely able to communicate, hardly knowing where she is _ tensions seethe between the two people closest to Gabor: Her husband of 25 years, Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, and her only daughter, Francesca Hilton.

Von Anhalt and Hilton are at odds on almost everything regarding Gabor. They fight over her will, each rewriting it without telling the other. They fight over her house: Von Anhalt sued Hilton in 2005 for refinancing the property, which she says she did to protect her mother’s investments. Now, Hilton is disputing von Anhalt’s right to sell the place.

They argue over her image: Hilton detests von Anhalt for publishing photos of Gabor in her hospital gown; he says it allows her fans to see that she’s happy and not “half dead.” They argue over visiting Gabor: Von Anhalt says that because Hilton is “crazy,” she can only come when accompanied by a doctor. Hilton says she hasn’t been allowed to see her mother in more than two months.


And the bizarre he-said, she-said battle continues, with von Anhalt talking openly to the press, Hilton typically hiding from the press, and the woman who pioneered the art of being famous for being famous lying helplessly in between.

Almost weekly, Von Anhalt alerts the media to another Zsa Zsa Gabor medical crisis: A broken hip, a leg amputated because of gangrene, the other leg nearly amputated, blood clots, infections, pneumonia. Last week, she underwent surgery to reposition her feeding tube. Since last summer, Gabor has been admitted to UCLA Medical Center nearly two dozen times.

Then there are von Anhalt’s own news flashes: In 2007 he declared that he might be the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby after Smith died in Florida. A DNA test proved him wrong. Later that year, he called police to report he’d been mugged, and they found the 67-year-old naked in his Rolls Royce. Last year, von Anhalt briefly joined California’s race for governor. He also says he’s considering running for mayor of Los Angeles in 2013.

Von Anhalt, who claims to be a German prince, now says he wants to have a baby with an egg donor and a surrogate, because after his wife dies, “I will be very alone.”

The prince also wants to ditch Gabor’s sprawling Bel-Air mansion for $15 million and auction off her vast collection of antiques and designer clothing, sometimes plugging the planned sales around medical reports on his wife.

“My wife, even when she is at home, she doesn’t know where she is,” he says. “She doesn’t know if she’s in hospital or at home, so it doesn’t make any sense to keep the house.”

Hilton says von Anhalt has no right to sell the house. He claims he has power of attorney over Gabor’s affairs and that the pre-nuptial agreement signed by the couple in 1986 shows the mansion belongs to Gabor alone.

Von Anhalt insists everything he does is in his wife’s best interest and her care and well-being are his priorities. He says he is constantly by her side and is often the only person she trusts.

He met Gabor in 1984 while on vacation in Los Angeles from Germany. Then 40, he checked into the Beverly Hilton and went looking for a real Hollywood party. He found one at author Sidney Sheldon’s gated estate.

“I didn’t have an invitation, and I forced myself into it,” he recalls.

He dressed in a royal uniform, rented a Rolls Royce convertible, paid two college students 100 bucks each to pose as his bodyguards and crashed the party. Inside, he was introduced as the Duke of Saxony and Gabor was immediately taken. Twenty-seven years his senior, she made him her lover. He came often from Germany to see her, and after two years, over a meeting with a press agent, it was determined they would be married on Aug. 14, 1986.

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