She might have been ‘exquisitely beautiful’ but according to former James Bond star Sir Roger Moore, 86, Zsa Zsa Gabor was a little broad in the beam.
This observation, along with many others, appears in the Hollywood veteran’s new memoir, Last Man Standing: Tales From Tinseltown.
Here Moore reveals what he really thinks about his leading ladies, among them Bette Davis, Grace Kelly and Joan Collins – and not all of it’s good.
ZSA ZSA GABOR
Zsa Zsa Gabor is perhaps better known for the number of her marriages rather than anything else, and I was once coupled with her by MGM – albeit platonically.
It was the studio’s habit of partnering their contract artists with each other to attend events, premieres and dinners, purely for publicity purposes.
I accompanied Zsa Zsa to one such premier and on to dinner afterwards. She was exquisitely beautiful, if a little large in the lower rear region I felt – well, not literally felt, you understand.
At one point, Zsa Zsa was married to George Sanders, he was husband number three of nine I think, but she was also having an affair with Rubirosa (aka Mr Ever Ready).
Porfirio Rubirosa was a Dominican diplomat whose reputation as a playboy far exceeded any political accomplishments and was only matched by stories of his sexual prowess.
George was obviously aware of something going on between his wife and the playboy and returned home one day, just before Christmas, propped a ladder against the bedroom window and caught the pair mid-service.
The ensuing flash of a camera bulb quite put Rubirosa off his stroke and there was a mad scramble out of bed as George gently descended the ladder, and let himself in through the front door to wait at the foot of the stairs.
Zsa Zsa and Rubirosa sheepishly descended. ‘Merry Christmas Zsa Zsa… and to you Rubi,’ he said in his deliciously wonderful sardonic voice before leaving.
They divorced the following April and Rubirosa continued his womanising ways elsewhere.
I found myself seated next to Grace at dinner one evening at Hollywood hairdresser Sydney Guilaroff’s house.
The conversation started turning to politics, of which, as a young Brit, I knew very little, and Grace said to me, ‘You know Roosevelt sold us down the river’.
I’m afraid I had no idea what she was talking about and for some time after that, often kicked myself for being unable to continue the conversation.
Some years later, when I became a regular visitor to the South of France and she had become Princess Grace of Monaco, she invited me up to the Grimaldi family’s farm retreat, Roccagele, in the hills high above Monte Carlo and that’s where I first met Prince Albert who I guess was 11 or 12.
He struck me as being a very quiet and shy young man, who took great pleasure in showing me the many animals around the farm.
Grace wasn’t at all stuffy as her royal status would have entitled her to be had she wished. Far from it, she had a mischievous sense of humour, a glint of naughtiness in her eye – especially saucy ones.
Grace was a very precious gift to Monaco, albeit for too short a time.
Ava was a very funny and pithy lady, though was, perhaps, equally well known for her sexual conquests and husbands as much as her films.
She was married three times in all, to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra; and her high profile affairs included those with Clarke Gable, Robert Taylor, George C. Scott and Robert Mitchum.
In fact, legend has it that while filming My Forbidden Past in 1951, that she was first attracted to co-star Mitchum, who was himself under contract to Howard Hughes, with whom Ava had been romantically linked.
Mitchum telephoned his boss. ‘Do you mind if I go to bed with Ava?’ he asked. ‘If you don’t,’ Hughes replied, ‘they’ll think you’re a pansy’.
Towards the end of my tenure as Simon Templar at ABPC Studios in Borehamwood in 1968, Hammer Films moved in on an adjacent stage with a film version of the hit West End play, The Anniversary.
It starred Hollywood grande dame Bette Davis along with Sheila Hancock and James Cossins in support.
A very talented, award-winning young director named Alvin Rakoff was signed to helm this new Hammer production, and the British cast were told that Miss Davis was to command their utmost respect, but they were not to approach her directly on set.
Furthermore, on her first day, they were given instructions to gather round and applaud the star as she made her entrance.
Within a few days it was clear that Bette was not only standoffish with her co-stars but was even unwilling to engage in any form of dialogue with Alvin,
‘She was above taking or talking about direction of any kind,’ he said.
She had the producers fire Alvin, very unceremoniously, after a week and hired in Roy Ward Baker to replace him.
Shortly after, the Director of Photography was fired after Miss Davis accused him of not lighting her properly, and she subsequently gave her own specific instructions on where lights should be placed.
Sheila Hancock had the dressing room next door to Miss Davis’ and she was able to hear the conversations through the radiator pipes and – almost on a daily basis – heard whom Miss Davis demanded to be sacked next.
Another wonderful actress and feisty lady was Lana Turner. I wrote about Lana in my autobiography, about the time in the early 1950s when she taught me how to kiss on the set of the movie Diane.
I actually thought my technique was pretty good – I had already been married twice and hadn’t had many complaints in that department – but Lana taught me a new technique of ‘passion without pressure’ – what a lady she was!
Of course, when she came to make Diane, Lana was already a huge Hollywood star with lots of classic films to her name – not to mention several husbands and lovers.
However, I will also remember her for the day she told our producer on the film, Edwin Knopf, to ‘fuck off’, after a seemingly trivial difference of opinion on set.
In fact, Eddie was so upset, he stormed directly off stage and into my trailer, where he was sitting, pink-eyed, when I returned a short while later.
‘I’ve known Lana since she first walked onto this lot as a young girl,’ he said to me. ‘And now she speaks to me like that, in front of the whole cast and crew!’
I returned to the set and asked Lana why she’d been so rotten to Eddie who was, as everyone who knew him will attest, a lovely guy.
He’d also overcome disability, leaving him with only one arm, which endeared him to everyone even more.
‘Sweetheart,’ she replied matter-of-factly. ‘When I first came on this set, all the producers fucked me. So now I’m fucking them.’
One night, Joan was late for a ball in Hollywood which she was attending with Arthur [Loew Jr]. Arthur had been brooding about her punctuality for some time, and this time, he snapped, ‘You are f***ing boring’.
‘And you are a boring f***,’ snapped Joan, without a blink. Joan has a lovely turn of phrase, as does her sister Jackie.
Their father, Joe Collins, was a big theatrical agent in the 1950s and was, in fact, my wife Dorothy Squires’ agent, and I got to know him well.
He was a very dashing, handsome man-about-town and Elsa, his wife, was a very graceful, classically beautiful woman who believed implicitly in Joan’s innocence.
When Joan announced to Elsa that she wanted to marry Maxwell Reed, the man to whom she’d lost her virginity, Elsa said, ‘Darling, he’s an actor – and a spivvy sort of actor at that. But Daddy won’t allow that.’
‘Then I will live with him,’ Joan replied, with a flourish. Elsa told me she never doubted it and that’s why they agreed to the marriage.
Last Man Standing: Tales From Tinseltown, £20, is published by Michael O’Mara
Published by dailymail.co.uk