Zsa Zsa gets the most attention in these pages. Author Sam Staggs is a Hollywood biographer and family friend of the Gabors. While this gives him unique access, especially to Zsa Zsa’s daughter, Francesca Hilton...it sometimes leaves him open to questions of objectivity. His prose can also veer to 50 cent words ('mephitic,' 'testudo,' 'otiose') and cringe worthy similes.
Staggs is an invaluable film chronicler whose work has always toggled between the engrossing and the overwrought. In this case, his long friendship with Zsa Zsa’s late daughter Francesca seems to have exacerbated the divide, and his fractured time sequences, breathless prose and pugilistic opinions suggest he is either competing with or being absorbed by the Gabors themselves. (Although it’s hard to imagine that even Zsa Zsa would have likened her 1945 confinement at West Hills Sanitarium to 'the sufferings of concentration camp victims,' as the author does).
Celebrity biographer Staggs...dishes up an entertaining biography of the glamorous Gabor sisters ... Staggs is unapologetically fond of these three women, who were groomed by their controlling mother, Jolie, to pursue fame above all else ... While readers may sometimes lose the narrative thread of Staggs’s painstakingly detailed account, his take on the Gabors—oft-derided in their day as exemplars of style over substance—as hardworking show business survivors is clear and refreshingly admiring. Pop culture buffs will just adore this penthouse view of the Gabors
In this latest biography of the Gabors, film historian Staggs...attempts to “set the record straight ... Ultimately, the book is an old-fashioned Hollywood biography, however respectfully eschewing the malicious Kitty Kelly style of dishing. Staggs diligently references sources and allows their personalities and escapades to come vividly to life ... Beneath all the glitz, these were business-savvy women, and the author misses the opportunity to claim their relevance for contemporary readers, leaving them enmeshed within their long-reigning 'camp' status. Theirs is an interesting, occasionally wayward American success story begging for a revisionist approach to the telling. An entertaining yet predictable portrait of a flamboyantly iconic family.