As the final act played out Wednesday, Zsa Zsa Gabor made a weeping courtroom exit--her fourth impromptu departure of the trial and her third in two days.
Then, after lawyers wrapped up their closing arguments, the jury was given the task of deciding whether the former Miss Hungary should be found guilty for slapping Beverly Hills Police Officer Paul Kramer in June.
In the absence of the leading lady, Gabor's husband, Prince Frederick von Anhalt, moved into the media spotlight. The German Duke of Saxony stood in a hallway at Beverly Hills Municipal Court, denying that he is jealous of Kramer's good looks and dodging questions as to whether he was slapped by his wife in a jealous marital spat over the officer on Monday, as a giggling Gabor had told reporters Tuesday.
Jury deliberations had scarcely begun--they continue today--but the straight-faced prince was ready with a forecast:
"She's probably guilty," he said. "She told them in the beginning that she slapped him (Kramer). It doesn't surprise me very much."
No Jail Time Predicted
Although Gabor, who admits to being 66, has a different viewpoint--"She expects to be not guilty, actually," von Anhalt said--the heretofore taciturn prince predicted that she would not be given jail time, no matter what, when and if Judge Charles G. Rubin ultimately addresses that question.
"This city is ruled by the rich and famous . . . and if you put them in jail, that's the end of the city," von Anhalt said confidently. "I think the rich and famous should be judged differently. They bring the money to Beverly Hills. This city couldn't live with the little people's tax money."
Looking ahead, the prince added: "If she's convicted, I'll take her to Europe. We have a 600-room castle in Europe, with 200 servants. . . . Maybe it's time to move out of Beverly Hills. It's getting dangerous here."
Fear of Jail
Earlier, Gabor spoke with fear of going to jail, citing all the "lesbians" there, and then issued apologies to irate gay and lesbian groups.
On Wednesday, the 13th day in the bizarre trial, she arrived at court in a black pants suit, calling it "my lesbian outfit."
"If I go to jail," she said, "I'm dressed for it."
But as soon as she entered court, the actress discovered that she was being fined $500 for contempt of court for calling one of Tuesday's witnesses a liar, with a second $500 contempt count also pending.
Her courtroom stay was brief. She left early in the closing argument of Deputy Dist. Atty. Elden Fox, who accused Gabor of abusing the judicial process and fighting the case for media fanfare and her own "self-aggrandizement."
"She discovered this isn't like appearing on a talk show," an emphatic Fox told jurors, "(and she discovered) that her humor, when it's misplaced and inappropriate, is not always laughed at.
"The defendant in this case doesn't know the meaning of truth."
As Fox made those comments, Gabor stood suddenly and walked out, fighting back tears. She told reporters outside, "In Nazi Hungary they were fairer than here. Here they don't kill you. They kill you with words."
Fox, in remarks lasting more than an hour, forcefully attacked Gabor's own testimony, in which she made numerous flip and contradictory statements and questioned the authenticity of police videotapes made after her arrest.
"She self-destructed in this courtroom, ladies and gentlemen," Fox said. "She blew up right before your eyes."
Gabor's attorney, William Graysen, built much of Gabor's defense around nine witnesses who claimed that they were abused by Kramer in other incidents. The testimony was designed to show a "pattern" of rudeness and excessive force by Kramer, Graysen said.
"He's not there to aggravate people, to teach people a lesson," the attorney argued. "A policeman should be a problem solver . . . and Officer Kramer created this problem."
Times staff writer Edmund Newton contributed to this story.