In her own words, Gabor claimed she was "discovered by the operatic tenor Richard Tauber on a trip to Vienna in 1934 following her time as a student at a Swiss boarding school". She made her first stage appearance for Tauber, singing a soubrette role in his new operetta, Der singende Traum (The Singing Dream). Two years later, she would be crowned Miss Hungary.
In 1944, she co-wrote a novel with Victoria Wolf called Every Man For Himself. In 1949, Gabor declined an offer to play the leading role in a film version of the classic book, Lady Chatterley's Lover (the part later went to Danielle Darrieux in 1955).
Her more well-known credits include roles in Moulin Rouge, Lovely to Look At, We're Not Married, Lili, Touch of Evil, Queen of Outerspace, Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood, and Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie. She appeared in cameos in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, The Beverly Hillbillies, and A Very Brady Sequel. One of her most recent credits was voicing Blossom in Happily Ever After.
She made regular guest appearances in television shows, such as Bob Hope's specials, the Dean Martin Roasts, Hollywood Squares, among others. In 1973 she was the guest roastee on the Dean Martin Roast show, and in 1998, film historian Neal Gabler called her kind of celebrity "The Zsa Zsa Factor".
Zsa Zsa was most well-known for her many marriages. Her husbands included:
- Burhan Asaf Belge (1937–1941; divorced)
- Conrad Hilton (1942-1947; divorced, had her only child with him)
- George Sanders (1949-1954; divorced)
- Herbert Hutner (1962-1966; divorced)
- Joshua S. Cosden, Jr. (1966-1967; divorced)
- Jack Ryan (1975-1976; divorced)
- Michael O'Hara (August 27, 1976-1983; divorced)
- Felipe de Alba (April 13–14, 1983; annulled)
- Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt (1986-2016; her death)
She has had her share of legal and financial troubles over the years. In 1989, she was accused of slapping the face of a Beverly Hills Police officer who had stopped her for a traffic violation, which she was later convicted of, as well as driving with out a license and in possession of an open container of alcohol, but acquitted her of disobeying the officer by driving away from the traffic stop. She was sentenced to serve three days in jail, pay fines totaling $12,937, perform 120 hours of community service and to undergo a psych evaluation. In 1990, she dropped her appeal of the sentance and agreed to serve it. However, she refused to do community service. She served her jail time from July 27-30, 1990. She had a long-running feud with Elke Sommer, beginning when both Gabor and Sommer appeared on Circus of the Stars, which escalated to a multi-millions of dollars libel suit by 1993. The suit result in an oder for Gabor and her husband to pay Sommer $3.3 million in general and punitive damages. In 2009, it was revealed she was a victim of Bernie Madoff, losing as a much as $10 million.
Over the years, she has had many health issues. In 2002, she was a front seat passanger in an automobile accident, in which she was partially paralyzed and reliant on a wheelchair for mobility. She was a survivor of several strokes, in 2005 and 2007. In 2010, she fractured her hip and underwent a successful hip replacement. In August 2010, she was admitted to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in serious condition, where she was issued last rites by a Catholic priest. In 2011, her right leg was amputated above the knee to save her life from an infection. She was later hospitalized mulitple times for various reasons throughout 2011. In February 2016, she was rushed to the hospital after suffering breathing difficulties, which was later diagnosed as a feeding tube related lung infection, and was scheduled to undergo a surgery to have it removed.
In April 2016, Gabor expressed her wish to move back to Hungary in 2017 and live out the rest of her life there. Her husband stated that he was determined to make her wish come true and he intended to arrange for "a big party in the summer" to celebrate the actress' 100th birthday, after which she would return to Budapest.
Gabor died at the age of 99 of a heart attack at her home in Bel Air, Los Angeles, on December 18, 2016, less than two months before she would have become acentenarian.She had been on life support for the previous five years. She is survived by husband Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt, whom she wed in 1986. Her only daughter,C. Francesca Hilton died a year before.