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The Outdated But Oddly On-Point Life Advice of Zsa Zsa Gabor

How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man by Zsa Zsa Gabor
How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man by Zsa Zsa Gabor
How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man by Zsa Zsa Gabor

We love a lady with mountains of chutzpah (and diamonds to match). Know who has that in spades? Hungarian-born glamourpuss Zsa Zsa Gabor, famous for her white-blond hair, big eyes, big jewelry, big-name marriages, and that certain way of purring “daaaarling.” Zsa Zsa was one of the first celebs to be famous solely for being famous—witty, sensual, larger-than-life. Turns out, not only can the girl get hitched with the best of them, she can spin a bon mot like nobody’s business, too, so we’re adding to our book club (Vreeland, Von Furstenberg) with another notable, quotable femme.

Here, the selected hilarious, aggressively anti-feminist advice of the much-loved Gabor, as captured in her 1970 book How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man, written after splitting with her fifth husband and before hooking up with the four (!!) to follow. A taste of Zsa Zsa: “My advice is not always so logical and consistent. But then love is not logical and consistent. So why should my advice be. If you want that kind of thinking, go to a computer. Computers are always logical and consistent, and you see how often they get proposed to.”

Please note: ITG does not endorse all of this advice, though you kind of have to admire it. (And some of it’s pretty damn good.)

On life:

“I don’t consider any of my marriages mistakes. They were all good experiences and I learned something important from each. From my first marriage to the Turkish ambassador, I learned how to be a diplomat. From Conrad Hilton I learned how to be a good housekeeper and frugal. From George Sanders I started to learn how to become an actress and a neurotic. From my fourth husband, Herbert Huttner, I learned how to become rich on investments. And from my fifth husband, I learned you should always look at your horoscope before you marry a Texan who is in the New York Social Register.”

“I believe that in life you should always take the serious things lightly and the light things seriously. This attitude of mine gets me into a lot of trouble.”

“I think breeds of dogs and breeds of men are quite a bit alike. If you think it’s insulting that I compare people with animals, well, if you knew how I love animals, you would understand that coming from me, this is a compliment.”

“I tell you, in this world being a little crazy helps to keep you sane.”

“Any woman who slops around the house all the time with grease on her face and curlers in her hair in front of her husband is a dumb woman. If he stands for it, he’s not genius himself.”

“I never go out with women in the evening. I’d rather shoot myself. My most favorite joke is that to keep a marriage, the husband should have a night out with the boys and the wife should have a night out with the boys, too.”

“Remember—the only place men want depth in their women is in her décolletage.”

“What is really important for a woman, you know, even more than being beautiful or intelligent, is to be entertaining.”

On a woman’s figure:

“Any woman who diets all the time can’t help but be grouchy. Nobody can be amusing or entertaining on a diet.”

“There is no diet for a big ego.”

“They say that all men basically prefer rounded women, sweet wine, and Tchaikovsky. If you want to be attractive to a man, you should have a little flesh and not be just bones like a Harper’s Bazaar or Vogue model. All men I ever met in my life, when they look at those model’s pictures, said, ‘My God, how could I ever make love to that?’ (They could... and do, believe me.)”

On furs:

“Don’t ever buy imitation furs, because that’s worse than death.”

“If you have a chinchilla coat that is two or three years old and is too out of style for you to wear any more, go to your furrier and have him make out of it a nice lining for your raincoat, which is even more chic than it would be on the outside. Or else you can always make a chinchilla bath mat out of it.”

On money:

“There’s no better money to spend than your own.”

“Keep separate bank accounts. I always have; not because my husbands don’t trust me but because I don’t trust myself.”

“I’m a compulsive buyer. Anything beautiful I see I want. That’s how we got the Waldorf Astoria. I told Conrad Hilton, ‘I want the Waldorf,’ and he bought it. The only problem was I divorced him before the escrow was finished.”

“Diamonds are a better investment for a married woman than anything else because if it should ever happen that some day you wind up getting a divorce and all the property is being divided up, your husband will probably say, if he is a gentleman, ‘We will share all of the other property, but you go ahead and keep all your diamonds. After all, I can’t wear them.’ (I hope you are married to that type of man, because some men I know, they’ll wear them).”

“People say you can’t go wrong with a blue-chip stock like AT&T, but what happens when finally everybody gets sick and tired of the phone ringing every time they are doing something important that shouldn’t be interrupted, like taking a bath or cooking a soufflé or making love, and they say, ‘The hell with it’ and rip their phones out by the roots, which I feel like doing more and more all the time.”

On love:

“Sometimes a language barrier will keep love alive longer.”

“Men fall in love with their eyes—they like what they see—and women fall in love with their ears—they like what they hear!!”

“If you catch that wonderful man, what does age matter? After all, love is blind, and it is also not good at arithmetic.”

“Unfortunately, it’s true that most of the men I choose are the type most women would be attracted to, because I’m such a careful shopper.”

“Love should be an inspiration, not an obligation.”

“Let’s face it: love and marriage are really two entirely different animals, like tigers and horses. You hardly ever find them living together in the same cage. Not for very long, anyway.”

“If you are insanely mad about your husband, then you are mainly lovers, not married people. It’s the biggest luck in the world to have a love affair which is legal. But, La Rochefoucauld was so right when he said ‘True love is like seeing ghosts, we all talk about it, but few of us have ever seen one.’”

“It’s not hard to find a new husband, but someone who is, for an example, a good bridge partner for you comes along once in a lifetime.”

“Love can last only when it has some big obstacle to get around—like [a] husband. It’s Proust who said it. He never got a divorce. He never got married either.”

On marriage:

“Oscar Wilde once said, ‘I can resist everything except temptation.’ Personally, I can resist every temptation but marriage.”

“Remember, if you wear the pants in your family, your husband’s mistress is going to wear the sables.”

“It is unfortunately true that the only man who will always ask you to marry him immediately is the one you would never marry.”

“If you like a man and he likes you, you should get married as fast as you can. Otherwise, you both are going to change your minds. There’s plenty of time for that after marriage.”

“Every girl should be married at least once in her life. It’s a must. Because once you have been married, you are a Mrs., and even if the marriage doesn’t work out, they can’t take that away from you.”

“I would not advise any girl to marry a man just because he is rich. I absolutely believe in that Scottish proverb that says, ‘Don’t marry for money; you can borrow it cheaper.’”

“I would take an American man for a husband three times out of five. In fact I did take an American man for a husband three times out of five. No other men can fix your dishwasher and your electric gate as well as American men. European men absolutely refuse to fix anything. It’s beyond their dignity.”

“When the young girl who is married to the older man gets mature herself, the man she has been married with has probably dropped dead. This, of course, is an ideal marriage.”

“Don’t ever let your husband take a vacation without you, unless it’s somewhere like on a mountain climbing expedition up Everest with only other men and sherpas, or maybe down a river fastened into a kayak so he can’t get out when he passes through a town. But even then to be on the safe side, you should send along with him your mother, as long as she isn’t your stepmother who looks just your age or younger...”

“I have noticed that often the more romantic a man is before marriage, the less he is after. At least with his wife.”

On sex:

“There is a lot more sex lying around than most men know how to handle.”

“Psychology experts agree that older men and younger girls are better suited for each other, because they have the same small drives for sex. These people whose business it is to study sex also say that older women should marry young men... They both have bigger drives for sex. This explains successful marriages like Audrey Hepburn and that young Italian psychiatrist. It must be all right to do if Audrey does it.”

“These days, any man between the ages of 15 and 95 can produce children—and so can even a test tube. (The nice thing about that is you don’t have to lie awake at night wondering who your test tube is out dancing with.)”

“I couldn’t endure living in a harem, not even if I were the favorite (which, of course, I would be, if only because I would have poisoned all the others). Also, in a harem the only men you would be allowed to talk to, besides your husband, would be eunuchs, and I’ve had enough of them since I have lived in Hollywood.”

“No matter what a man is an expert in, he always thinks he’s also an expert at being a lover.”

“As I have always said, ‘Three’s company, but four’s an orgy.’ And orgies are not good for anybody--except Fellini, who films them just beautifully.”

On family:

“If you can fight directly with your mother you can save a fortune in psychiatrist’s bills.”

“As far as I am concerned, you shouldn’t look twice at a mama’s boy. In fact, not even once.”

“As for custody, this is pretty easy to figure out. You keep all the young children and let their father have the ones that are over eighteen or twenty. This is because of three reasons: 1. The older ones are never home anyway. 2. The older ones are a big headache to take care of. 3. They give away your age.”

On dating:

“The best way to attract a man immediately is to have a magnificent bosom and a half-size brain and let both of them show. If you already have these two things, though, you probably aren’t reading this because you don’t need to. You are too busy beating men off with a baseball bat. Also I hope for you that you don’t spend too much of your time reading.”

“Emphasize your good points, your face or your legs or your derriere or something else that men normally find attractive, rather than your elbows or your feet. Although Goethe, the famous German poet, said, ‘A pretty foot is a great gift of nature,’ you don’t run into men like Goethe every day.”

“One of the best places to definitely not find a man is Hollywood.”

“You are much better off staying home and being the prettiest girl in Paris, New York, Chicago and Budapest rather than the 27,304th prettiest girl in Hollywood.”

“If you even can just barely stand a man in, say, Pittsburgh, you’ll adore him in Paris. I guarantee it. On the other hand, if you should find a man in Paris, by all means leave him in Paris, because if you take him somewhere else, you’ll find that it wasn’t the man, but, as the song goes, it was Paris that you loved.”

“Any man who cannot enjoy receiving lovely flowers [from a woman] and thinks it is being a sissy is not very secure in being a man.”

On romance:

“A successful romance is like a game of tug-of-war.”

“But remember, playing hard-to-get comes after he thinks he’s got you. If you play hard-to-get while he’s playing hard-to-get then nobody gets anybody.”

“Let’s face it, nine times out of ten, intellectual men would rather go to bed with a good book. Which just goes to show how unintelligent an intelligent person can be.”

On divorce:

“Whoever you are, Mrs. Rockefeller or Mrs. Smith, you have only one life to live. You can never be as unhappy alone than as unhappy as you can be with somebody you don’t want to be with. Alone, you can go to a movie, you can turn on your television set, you can put cream on your face, you can get yourself a puppy dog or a couple of cats, you can read, you can make yourself more beautiful for the future, you can do just anything you damn well please.”

“What a clever girl, that Elizabeth Taylor. Every time she gets married she gets a better and bigger diamond. I don’t know where that will end, but I don’t like it.”

“If it’s okay to have your nose fixed if it’s messing up your face, it certainly ought to be all right to get a divorce, if it’s your whole life that’s being messed up by your marriage.”

“The truth is, you never really know a man until after you have divorced him.”

“‘My husband I don’t communicate,’ a lot of women say. And I always say, ‘How can you be so lucky?’”

“The minute I understand a man, he is no longer exciting and a challenge to me. And the last thing in the world I want is for a man to understand me and know what’s always going on inside my head. It takes away from all my mystery, which, as I’ve told you before, is the most important thing between a man and a woman.”