Zsa Zsa Gabor, who died Sunday at 99, was famous for being famous long before the Kardashians were around. Sure, she's less known for her acting career than for dubbing everyone "dahhh-link" in that purring accent, her nine marriages and that time she slapped a cop.
And for one wonderful moment back in 1958, she was the "Queen of Outer Space."
Actually, in the 80-minute B-movie that you can imagine 1950s teens not watching on hot make-out dates at the drive-in, Zsa Zsa wasn't the queen at all. Actress Laurie Mitchell played the queen, who wore a mask to hide "radiation burns" that appear to have been drawn on her face by a toddler with a Magic Marker. (Special effects at their 1958 finest!)
But Zsa Zsa, playing a Venusian scientist named Talleah, was the star, and the movie knew it. She dominated the posters, in a scarlet gown slit up to the Milky Way, and was introduced as the queen in the trailer, which knew what audiences wanted.
Forget the plot, which involved male astronauts of a fictional 1985 shocked at how a planet could be run by women (drink every time a man calls the women "dolls" or "dames").
Just focus on Zsa Zsa, who stands in the middle of a pile of dreck and still radiates pure glamour. She could teach posture lessons to a princess, never slumping. Her ice-blond hair was so perfectly arranged, it could've been molded out of plastic. Jewels reclined comfortably on her swan-like neck.
Though the actresses surrounding her wore short dresses that appear to have inspired the female wardrobe of Star Trek, Zsa Zsa swept across the stage in gowns, including one that seemed poured of molten gold.
You can get a long way on image, if you're smart enough to play it right, and Zsa Zsa never stepped out of the glamorous persona she played so well. Whether testifying in her own defense in a Beverly Hills court, or getting Blair Warner to sell cosmetics on "Facts of Life," she was always Zsa Zsa, with a name that's been described "like the sound of silk sliding off a bed."
At one point, her character explains to the male astronauts how the queen took over the planet, using words that could almost explain Zsa Zsa's own decades-long fame. "They didn't take her seriously," she says. "After all, she was only a woman."
People didn't take Zsa Zsa seriously at their own peril. Rest in peace, Queen of Outer Space.