Zsa Zsa Gabor, arguably the world’s most famous Hungarian, has transmigrated at the age of ninety-nine. Born Sari Gabor in Budapest in 1917, the former Miss Hungary (1936) was one of the first celebrities to become famous for being famous. “If there had been no Zsa Zsa, there probably would be no Kim Kardashian,” intones USA Today. But let’s not hold that against her. Gabor was famously married nine times, once to Conrad Hilton, Paris Hilton’s great-grandfather. Another of her husbands was Jack Ryan, who is credited with designing the Barbie doll for toy-maker Mattel. Draw your own conclusions. The tart-tongued temptress liked to brag that she was a great housekeeper; after each of her divorces she got to keep the house. After slapping a police officer, for which she got a 72 hour jail sentence, she explained, “I admit I have a Hungarian temper. Why not? I am from Hungary. We are descendants of Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun.” Another famous quote: “Personally, I know nothing about sex, because I have always been married.” She was also a pop culture icon immortalized in Dion’s 1963 hit “Donna The Prima Donna”:
She wears diamonds and pearls galore
She buys them at the five-and-ten cent store
She wants to be just like Zsa Zsa Gabor
Even though she’s just Donna next door.
The second most famous Hungarian, in my opinion at least, is Csoma de Körös (1784–1842). He was a full-blown eccentric who devoted his entire life to the pursuit of arcane knowledge. As the Russian theosophist and New Age Fairy God Mother Madame Helena Blavatsky noted, “a poor Hungarian, Csoma de Körös, not only without means, but a veritable beggar, set out on foot for Tibet, through unknown and dangerous countries, urged only by the love of learning and the eager wish to shed light on the historical origin of his nation. The result was that inexhaustible mines of literary treasures were discovered.” Among the written works unearthed were the first descriptions of the legendary Buddhist Realm of Shambhala to reach the Occident.Eccentric Hungarian Wanderer-Scholar Csoma de Körös and the Legend of Shambhala.