George loved women, really.

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George got a reputation as a “woman hater” because of some lines he spoke in The Moon and Sixpence (and they were Somerset Maugham’s words, not George’s)  The words were something to the effect that the more you beat women the better they are for it.  Well, when the film was released women were up in arms against him about it. As he says in his memoirs “In the course of several newspaper interviews, I facetiously embroidered on this theme. I said I approved of the oriental idea of keeping women in harems. I also said that you could treat women like dogs and they would still love you. Personally I always treat dogs with infinite courtesy…” George also wrote “…the two [feminine attributes] which have caused me the greatest exasperation and anguish are, one, that they [women] are irresistible, and two, that they are irreplaceable.”

Indeed, he did find women irresistible, as they did him, as shown by all the affairs he had with his leading ladies (and other ladies such as Doris Duke). Just to name a few, Hedy Lamarr, Gene Tierney , Dolores del Rio, Lucille Ball, and Debra Paget.

George married four times. His first wife, whose professional name was Susan Larson, he met on a set at Twentieth Century Fox in 1938 when he was making Mr Moto’s Last Warning , which was released in January 1939.  They were married on October 27, 1940 in a Methodist Church but the marriage was kept secret. Susan gave up acting and stayed at home. The marriage was revealed late in 1942. Richard VanDerBeets discusses the marriage in depth and gives a penetrating analysis on pages 65-71 of his book George Sanders: An Exhausted Life.   The marriage lasted until 1947.

Zsa Zsa Gabor, who upon seeing George in “The Moon and Sixpence”
told her mother “There is my next husband”, was wife number two. She finally met George at a cocktail party. As VanDerBeets writes on page 99 of his book about George, Zsa Zsa saw him across the room “Tanned and fit, elegantly attired in formal black silk dinner clothes and surrounded by admiring women George sat ‘like a pasha’ and she found him ‘as irresistible in person’ as she had found him on the screen. ‘Take me to him. I must meet him,’ she begged her host–and then gushed, ‘Mr. Sanders, I’m madly in love with you.’ With a condescending smile George replied, ‘How well I understand, my dear'”.On April 1,1949 (appropriately on Aprils Fools Day) George married her and on April 1, 1954 they divorced. However, they remained friends for life.

On February 10, 1959 George married Benita Hume or as I call her “the Good Wife”.  He had know her off and on for more than 20 years.  On page 158 of his book about George, VanDerBeets quotes Benita  as having written to a friend  that “George is the kind of man who makes it a joy to wake up in the morning and find he is there.”  And to another friend she wrote “George has been the kindest and most gentle man who brought me out of the depths of despair and helped me to start living again.”  Indeed, George and Benita made each other very happy until her death in 1967.

After Benita’s death, George was devastated and although he  tried to get on with his life he was never the same again. He had several girlfriends over the last five years of his life.  Zsa Zsa persuaded him to marry her sister Magda, but this fourth marriage only lasted  a month.  He could never replace Benita and his health declined seriously. We all know what tragedy happened in the end…

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathy
    Jul 16, 2011 @ 13:15:38

    I would love to know your thoughts on Helga?


    • Judy Robinson
      Jul 18, 2011 @ 16:12:39

      I don’t think much of her. She was not good for George. She persuaded him to sell his house in Spain, which was bad for him. I believe she used him and took advantage of his declining capabilities. His health was bad and the strokes had left him with periods of confusion. Hell has a special place for women like her. Those are my thoughts about her in a nutshell!
      Thanks for your comment.


  2. Kathy
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 18:28:06

    I totally agree with you. Just goes to show you George wasnt in his right mind towards the end of his life. Shame he did not stick it out with Lorraine, I dont think he would have ended it all if she had remained in his life. They had a lot if fun together, which he desperatley needed after the death of Benita.


  3. Kathy
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 21:21:57

    From Vanderbeets i think. Aherne changes her name in his book, but then a lot of stuff isnt quite right in his book. George didnt hate women..he loved them, well behind his facade anyway (as your well aware, Zsa Zsa commented that he didnt like showing his feelings). I dont think he like being totally alone he had to have someone around even if it was the hired help.


    • Judy Robinson
      Jul 22, 2011 @ 13:49:51

      I have read VanDerBeets book, which is a good one, but I didn’t remember her name. I don’t care for Aherne’s book which is really a glorification of himself. He does give some interesting anecdotes, however, such as the one about playing golf with George. I do like the letters from George and Benita. I agree with what you say. George was insecure–God know why with all the gifts he had–and showing his feeling would have made him feel vulnerable. I especially hate it that he died alone in a strange hotel room and that he must have suffered much mental agony.
      Have you visited his Facebook page?


  4. Kathy
    Jul 22, 2011 @ 15:39:00

    No I havnt been on his facebook page, I am not a big fan of Facebook I’m afraid.
    The letters from Benita and George we have Aherne to thank but thats about all. I do not like Aherne and I dont know how he could have called himself a friend when he sat back and watched his friend slowley crumble. The last year and the final hours of George’s life haunt me and I, like you, and many others feel the same way, that those final days were shear torture and none of us can possibly know how he felt. I dont think it bothered him being alone in the hotel…he was past caring at that stage and just wanted some peace. But there is one thing … he wont be forgotten, thats for sure.


    • Judy Robinson
      Jul 23, 2011 @ 12:48:08

      I certainly agree with you about Aherne. I don’t know how George could have been so badly fooled as to think of him as a friend. A few days ago I bought a beautiful photo of George on which he had written an inscription to Aherne and what I presume was Aherne’s wife of the time. The inscription is “To dearest Brian and Eleanor, I probably do not deserve your friendship, which is no reason why I shouldn’t enjoy it. Love, George”
      I try not to dwell on the last days of his life and to concentrate on the happier times. I have several photos of him with Benita in which they both look so happy. He was a gift and we won’t see his like again.
      I am not a big Facebook fan either but it helps me keep up with what my children are up to. It led me to a Facebook page another fan of George’s had created and now I post photo of him and comments there. That can be fun. If you decide you want to take a look the URL is


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