A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 02, 2012
“I’m a good housekeeper; every time I get a divorce, I keep the house”

Zsa Zsa Gabor (1917-2016) married nine times. She often told a joke about her marriages and her special housekeeping ability:

“I’m a wonderful housekeeper. Every time I’m divorced, I keep the house.”

It’s likely that joke already existed, then comedians told the joke about Gabor, and then she liked it so much that she told it herself. Edith Gwynn wrote in her “Hollywood” newspaper column in November 1950:

“(Paul—ed.) Douglas also met up with a movie star who is a wonderful housekeeper. Every time she gets a divorce, she keeps the house!”

Zsa Zsa Gabor became associated with the joke by at least 1957, when she said, “Oh dollink, I’m a vunderful housekepper...Every time I get a divorce, I keep the house.” The screenwriter Ben Hecht had a late-night television talk show and interviewed Zsa Zsa Gabor. From a January 1959 newspaper article:

Hecht: “I’ve heard it said that you’re a good housekeeper in that when you get a divorce, you keep the house.”
Zsa Zsa: “That’s a silly lie.”


The joke has also been told by and about other women (besides Zsa Zsa Gabor) who have been divorced. The joke is somewhat dated—in the 1950s, divorce was infrequent and a woman’s housekeeping duties were more expected than in today’s society.


Wikipedia: Zsa Zsa Gabor
Zsa Zsa Gabor (/ˈʒɑːʒɑː ˈɡɑːbɔːr, ɡəˈbɔːr/ zhah-zhah gah-bor, gə-bor; Hungarian: [ˈʒɒʒɒ ˈɡaːbor]; born Sári Gábor [ˈʃaːri ˈɡaːbor]; February 6, 1917 – December 18, 2016) was a Hungarian-American actress and socialite. Her sisters were actresses Eva and Magda Gabor.
(...)
Spouse(s)
Burhan Asaf Belge (1937–1941; divorced)
Conrad Hilton (1942–1946; divorced)
George Sanders (1949–1954; divorced)
Herbert Hutner (1962–1966; divorced)
Joshua S. Cosden, Jr. (1966–1967; divorced)
Jack Ryan (1975–1976; divorced)
Michael O’Hara (1976–1983; divorced)
Felipe de Alba (1983; annulled)
Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt (1986–present)

20 November 1950, Pottstown (PA) Mercury, “Hollywood” by Edith Gwynn, pg. 4, col. 5:
(Paul—ed.) Douglas also met up with a movie star who is a wonderful housekeeper. Every time she gets a divorce, she keeps the house!

12 July 1953, Grand Prairie (TX) Texan, pg. 10, col. 5:
She’s an excellent housekeeper. Everytime she gets divorced she keeps the house.

1 April 1954, Toronto (ON) Daily Star “A Little of Everything,” pg. 6, col. 3:
Most wives in Hollywood are reputed to be good housekeepers; perhaps, in some cases, because after they are divorced they keep the house?

30 November 1954, Aberdeen (SD) American-News, Bennett Cerf column, pg. 5, col. 3:
The starlet has a roommate, adds (Walter—ed.) O’Keefe, who is a remarkable housekeeper; every time she wangles a divorce, she keeps the house.

16 July 1955, Council Bluffs (IA) Nonpareil, “Today’s Chuckle,” pg. 1, col. 4:
She’s an excellent housekeeper. Every time she gets a divorce she keeps the house.

14 August 1957, Anniston (AL) Star, “The Smart Set” by Cholly Knickerbocker, pg. 6, col. 2:
LOVED ZSA ZSA’S CRACK to John Wingate—“Oh dollink, I’m a vunderful housekepper...Every time I get a divorce, I keep the house.”

12 January 1959, Oakland (CA) Tribune, “These TV People” by Bill Fiset, pg. E11, col. 1:
Ben Hecht won fame as a screenwriter, but nothing compared to the fame he’s winning with guests such as Zsa Zsa on a late-at-night “talk” show on TV locally in New York. The show runs 25 minutes, after which Hecht and his guest are usually all talked out.
(...)
Hecht: “I’ve heard it said that you’re a good housekeeper in that when you get a divorce, you keep the house.”
Zsa Zsa: “That’s a silly lie.”

27 September 1959, Lima (OH) News, Earl Wilson entertainment column, pg. B8, col. 4:
Jimmie Komack, survivor of a Las Vegas engagement with Zsa Zsa Gabor, said he’d figured out what the letter Z-S-A stand for” “Zircons Small Awful.”

“But the Gabor girls are wonderful housekeepers,” he maintains. “Mama Gabor taught them, ‘No matter what happens, keep the house!’”

Google Books
Celebrity Register;
An irreverent compendium of American quotable notables

New York, NY: Harper & Row
1960
Pg. 278:
I (Zsa Zsa Gabor—ed.) married in 1949 George Sanders ("I believe in beeg families. Every woman should have three husbands"), was divorced in 1955 ("I’m a vunderful housekeeper. Every time I get a divorce I keep the house"), had a much-publicized fling with, and according to her, a black eye from Porfirio Rubirosa prior to his marriage to Barbara Hutton ("In Hollywood you need either a husband or a lover you lak a lot"), ...

13 March 1960, Altoona (PA) Mirror, “Zsa Zsa’s Busy Day” by Margaret Bell, Family Weekly magazine, pg. 16, col. 2:
... to her housekeeping ("I’m a wonderful housekeeper; every time I’m divorced, I keep the house").

24 December 1962, Seattle (WA) Times, “Potomac Fever” by Fletcher Knebel, pg. 8, col. 4:
One wife prefers to think of herself as a housekeeper. In case of divorce, she intends to keep the house.

4 October 1963, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “Zsa Zsa—Flamboyant but Feminine” by Hy Yaple, pg. 24, col. 2:
This gay, talkative one, who once said, “I’m a vunderful housekeeper—every time I get a divorce I keep the house,” was anxious that I not say too much about her latest husband—No. 4.

19 February 1967, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Gag Bag,” pg. I6:
Gypsy Rose Lee: “A good housekeeper is an actress who gets to keep the house every time she gets a divorce.”

Google Books
Over 2000 and Some Odd Reasons ‘Not’ to Marry Your Mate
By Otha Johnson
Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.com, Inc.
2000
Pg. 16:
She has a reputation of being a good housekeeper: everytime she gets a divorce, she gets to keep the house.

Google Books
20 Questions to Ask About Wills & Estates
By Robert Zafft and Gene Zafft
Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press
2006
Pg. 102:
I am a good housekeeper: when I divorce, I keep the house. —Zsa Zsa Gabor

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • Friday, November 02, 2012 • Permalink