Pearls dangled from Eva Gabor’s ears as TV viewers watched her sing the Green Acres theme song for the very first time when the show premiered in 1965.
For fans who kept up with Gabor and her socialite family, the sight was a little unexpected, despite her longtime reputation as a glamor girl both onscreen and on the streets of New York.
Just months prior to the premiere, newspapers circulated a story of a vicious attack on Gabor that ended with her swearing off jewelry entirely.
The story goes that Gabor and her husband were returning to their New York apartment when two bandits attacked and demanded Gabor’s jewelry.
“We both thought it was a joke at first,” Gabor told the Star-Tribune in 1964.
But then she saw her husband’s face go white.
Gabor’s response was to defend herself, and this led to a confrontation where she suffered injuries, including a mild concussion from “a knot on my head, darling, as big as an egg,” as well as cuts on her ear after one of the thieves forcibly removed a pearl earring.
“I was a little hysterical, but not frightened,” Gabor said.
During her recovery, Gabor considered what happened and what she could do to prevent future attacks. She told newspapers that she felt it might be safer if she just quit wearing jewelry altogether.
“I’ll never wear jewelry again, darling,” she told United Press International.
In total, the thieves stole an estimated $35,000 worth of jewelry from Gabor, including her 15-carat diamond engagement ring and her wedding band.
To move past the horrible experience, Gabor’s husband joked about all the money his wife’s decision to quit wearing jewelry would save him, and Gabor joked back, “When my concussion gets better, and I am thinking more clearly, maybe I will change my mind.”
It wouldn’t be long before Green Acres premiered, showing the starlet wearing pearls and other glitzy jewelry, hopefully indicating a full recovery from the robbery.
For Gabor, the start of Green Acres gave her the most prominent onscreen role of what was already a long career.
Prior to the casting, she had appeared in movies and TV shows for two decades, first contracted by Paramount Studios when she was only 15.
Acclaimed by critics for her sincerity and depth as an actor, Gabor turned Lisa Douglas into one of the most iconic — and definitely most glamorous — female characters of the Sixties.
Now you know how much courage it took for her to get so dolled up for those early shows.
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