10 Things You Didn’t Know About Liza Minnelli
10. She had a serious emo phase
Broadway and rock music collaborating isn’t a totally impossible thing, but it is a thing that only happens pretty rarely.
In fact, the only examples most people will know of are American Idiot Live and We Will Rock You, two jukebox musicals involving the music of Green Day and Queen respectively.
However, those are not the only times that the worlds of theatre and rock music have collided, as Liza Minelli made the leap into emo herself in 2006.
Though she was far beyond her teenage years at the time, she became completely enamoured with emo legends My Chemical Romance, and agreed to work with them on their forthcoming album Welcome To The Black Parade.
She lent her backing vocals to the album, and even agreed to have a featured part on one track. As a result, she ended up with a solo section in the My Chemical Track “Mama”.
The song was perfect for her due to its theatrical nature, since the song is framed as a solider writing home from the war to his mother. The mother, who Liza Minelli assumes the part of, is ashamed of what her son has become, and tells him not to return home to her.
9. She once picked a fight with a stadium
Celerity feuds are nothing new, and there have been some truly bizarre ones over the years. However, Liza Minelli took the idea to the next level when she picked a fight with a building.
For context, it’s important to know that at the Yankee Stadium in New York, they finish the match by playing the song “New York, New York” as the crowd files out. When the home team win, the stadium plays the Frank Sinatra version of the song, while the Liza Minelli cover of the track is played when the home team loses.
Liza Minelli eventually caught wind of this little ritual, and needless to say, she wasn’t very happy about it. Though she appreciated her version of the song being used, she wasn’t happy about the negative connotations the stadium was associating with it.
In order to put a stop to the problem, Minelli confronted the runners of the stadium directly, and gave them an ultimatum. Either they had to amend their use of her music, or they couldn’t use it at all.
The exact terms of her ultimatum were that they could still use her New York cover, as long as they used it during winning games as well as losing ones. Either that, or they would have to use only the Frank Sinatra version of the track.
Obviously she thought this was a much more difficult decision than it actually was, since the stadium immediately agreed to just stop using her music. Maybe she would have been better off just accepting that nobody can compare to Sinatra, not even a fellow legend.
8. She was told she would never sing again
Liza Minelli’s life has been plagued by illness and injury, with her speaking openly about her battle with alcoholism, which she called “a disease inherited from her mother”. Aside from that, she has also been rushed to hospital numerous times, usually for taking some kind of fall off the stage.
In recent years, she has also had to contend with procedures that come along with ageing. She has had two operations, one to replace each of her hips, and has also had a single knee replacement.
However, her worst scare was probably in 2000, when she contracted an illness called viral encephalitis. The condition is very rare and very dangerous, since it starts with normal flu like symptoms, but can go on to inflame the brain.
Minelli’s battle with the illness was intense, and ended with her using a wheelchair. She had lost the ability to move or even talk, and was told that she would probably never sing or speak again.
Minelli refused to accept this, and booked herself into intense rehabilitation. She committed to recovering on two fronts, wanting to get her mobility fully back, and to recover her ability to speak and sing.
Despite the huge odds working against her, she made a full and miraculous recovery by 2001, just a short year after receiving her diagnosis. She made a grand comeback at Micheal Jackson’s 30 Anniversary Concert, singing the song “Never, Neverland” and confidently saying that she was “as stable as a table”.
7. She’s a legend in her own right
They say that some people are born into greatness, while others have greatness thrust upon them at a later date. Liza Minelli’s life has been a mixture of both, with her being born to famous parents, but working hard to prove that she stands on her own two feet.
Her hard work to distance herself from just her legacy has paid off, since she objectively stands above and beyond other performers in her situation. Though it’s a rare set of circumstances, there are other children born to two Academy Award Winners, and out of all of them she is doing the best.
As proof, it’s worth noting that she is the only child of two Academy Award winners to also have won an Academy Award in her own name. Judy Garland won an Oscar in 1955 for Best Actress, thanks to her work on A Star Is Born.
As for her father Vincente Minelli, he won the Academy Award for Best Director, for his 1959 movie Gigi. He was also nominated in 1952 for Best Director, thanks to his work on the movie An American In Paris.
Liza Minelli won the Academy Award in 1973 for Best Actress, thanks to her turn as the legendary Sally Bowles from Cabaret. That award was made even sweeter by the fact that she almost didn’t get the part, since Barbara Streisand was lined up to play the role before her.
Though the part marked her first Oscar win, it wasn’t her first nomination, as she was nominated just three years prior in 1970. The nomination was again for Best Actress, but for the dramedy she starred in called The Sterile Cuckoo.
6. She is one of the golden 13
Hollywood is already an elite club, with comparatively few actors making it big compared to those who set out for stardom. Award-winning actors make up an even smaller number of the population, since many performers spend their whole lives waiting for their big break to come along.
Of course, Liza Minelli has had certain advantages that have made her ascent to fame easier – since being born to Hollywood legend Judy Garland probably helped. However, she proved her value as an individual performer by winning award after award, which eventually led her to join an even more prestigious club.
Liza Minelli is a holder of the EGOT title, which means she has won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. This signifies achievements in all four of the main performance categories: television, music, film and theatre.
The list has expanded in recent years, but as it stands, only 15 people have ever obtained a competitive EGOT (which doesn’t include honorary awards). The list includes such legends as Audrey Hepburn, Mel Brooks, and Whoopi Goldberg.
Minelli herself is the recipient of a non-competitive EGOT, since her Grammy award was actually an honorary special award, for Grammy Legend Of The Year. The award was given to her in 1990, which completed her checklist of four awards, and cemented her position as an EGOT recipient.
5. She had a pretty unusual manager
We’ve seen already that Liza Minnelli has never been afraid to tangle with rock and roll royalty, but one of her collaborations was even more unlikely than all the others.
Way back in the 1980s, when she already had several album releases under her belt, she decided to find herself a new manager to help her music career.
No-one is quite sure why, but she came to the conclusion that the best choice was Gene Simmons, the lead singer of the glam rock band KISS, who had recently also begun working in music management.
The two worked together on her album Results, which was released in 1989. It did well in the UK, but was a total US flop, leading people to question Minelli’s choice in Simmons as a manager.
In fact, people were so confused by the decision she had made to have Simmons control her music, that they began to speculate the two of them were romantically involved.
Neither party ever confirmed the rumour, but they never denied them either, leading to a theory that has survived to this day.
4. Micheal Jackson was the best man at her wedding
Liza Minnelli has had four marriages, which means four marriage ceremonies. Some have been more lowkey than others, but every one of them has been a star-studded affair, and the fourth even had a very special guest taking part.
Liza Minnelli and Micheal Jackson had been friends for years even before she met her fourth husband David Guest, so it only made sense that he’d be invited to the wedding.
However, she upped his responsibility by making him the best man at her wedding, even though that’s a role that traditionally the groom-to-be picks out.
It worked out because Jackson was a mutual friend of both of them, and had even introduced them to each other in the first place.
Unfortunately, David and Liza were only married for a little over a year, and the relationship ended when it had barely begun. This wasn’t Jackson’s fault, but he did have to take the blame.
Allegedly, Minelli went to Jackson’s house when she realised that it wasn’t working, and asked him why on Earth he had let her marry him. His response? “You looked so happy. Your dress was beautiful.”
3. Even Andy Warhol thought she was intense
Legends flock to the company of other legends, and in the seventies there was no bigger legend than Andy Warhol. This of course meant that Liza Minelli sought him out, and she became a regular at his parties and projects.
Warhol’s circle of friends was famously eccentric, with him being the reserved introvert at the centre of a gaggle of fabulous but intense people. Minnelli, with her blunt speaking and brash manners, fit right in.
In fact, Warhol even remarked that she was over the top even by the standards he was used to. This is because he had noticed that she had a drug problem even before they had met, and it only grew more dangerous as they became friends.
This culminated when Liza Minelli charged into the house of a famous New York fashion designer while Warhol was there, and demanded they “give [her] every drug you’ve got!”
With that said, if Warhol was put off by Minelli’s intensity he didn’t show it, as the two collaborated together on a silkscreen portrait, as well as a series of famous polaroids.
They did have a period of serious feuding though, with Minelli calling him an insufferable neat freak and even implying that he had made her take drugs.
2. She has a thing for second generation actors
Hollywood royalty tends to flock together, and Liza Minelli has certainly made a splash in the celebrity dating pool a couple of times.
It would be impossible to name every star she has been seen with or rumoured to be with, but the men she has been married to have included famous stage managers, famous sculptors, and even famous TV personalities.
Not only that, but she is rumoured to have dated the famous director Martin Scorsese, in a case of Oscar winners apparently gravitating towards other Oscar Winners.
Most of all though, she has a habit of dating other second-generation actors, or actors connected in some way to her family’s life.
For example, she was in a long-term relationship with Desi Arnaz Jr, the son of the iconic Hollywood legend Lucille Ball, as well as Desi Arnaz Sr.
She also dated Jack Haley Jr, the son of Jack Haley Sr. The first Haley played the Tin Man in The Wizard Of Oz, alongside her mother Judy Garland.
1. Like mother, like daughter
Judy Garland and her daughter Liza Minnelli have a lot in common: from their unique appearance to their legendary voices and iconic acting ability.
Unfortunately, Minnelli’s life has come to echo Garland’s in many other ways, and some of them are not so positive.
For example, both Garland and Minnelli have dealt with addiction, both to alcohol and drugs. Garland was addicted to pills from a young age, allegedly because she was given them by adults on-set, and Minnelli had a similar level exposure to drugs from a young age.
Minnelli has been very vocal about her struggle with alcohol addiction, as well as the impact on her it had to see her mother struggle. However, she has said that the difference between the two of them is that she has never been afraid to ask for help.
The two of them have also had strangely similar relationships. Both Judy Garland and Liza Minelli were divorced four times, although Garland later went on to have a fifth relationship that would last until her death. Minelli has yet to marry for a fifth time.
However, both one of Garland’s and Minnelli’s marriages was ended when the man they were with came out as gay. For Garland is this was Minnelli’s father Vincente, while Minnelli’s own relationship to Peter Allen ended when she found him with another man.