Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Celeb Watch: Minnelli's memories embody showbiz history; video

By William Keck, USA TODAY
NEW YORK — Sunday marked the 39th anniversary of Judy Garland's death, and her eldest child, Liza Minnelli, was reminded of her mother over the weekend as she was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame.
She was about 15, she thinks, when her mother performed one of her final shows at the Bowl. "They built this ramp that went over the pool — or whatever that is in the front — and she was so scared to walk out there to the end," she recalls. "So she's halfway there, and she says, 'Liza, I'm going to fall,' and I remember jumping up" to help.
The Tony/Oscar/Emmy/Grammy winner, 62, also remembers her first visit to the landmark amphitheater, which is tucked away in the Hollywood Hills.
"I was little — I guess about 4," Minnelli says. "I sat on my dad's lap, next to Mama. And it was my godfather, Ira Gershwin, who was being honored there. So they played all the wonderful Gershwin songs."
As a teen, Minnelli says she sat up high on the lawn — in the Bowl's cheap section. "That's when you go with a boy and hope he's going to put his arm around you," she recalls with a hearty laugh.

Minnelli, who received a Tiffany-designed glass sculpture in the shape of the Hollywood Bowl, joins such previous Hall of Fame inductees as Frank Sinatra, George Harrison, Garth Brooks, Stevie Wonder and Placido Domingo.
On Friday, she performed at the Bowl for the first time. She had been rehearsing vigorously with her best friend and choreographer of 38 years, Ron Lewis, who accompanied her to the Tony Awards.
Before heading west, Minnelli stopped at New York's Tavern on the Green, where she and fourth husband David Gest courted before their lavish 2002 wedding. Some thought was even given to holding the ceremony here.
Minnelli shrieks when asked about the possibility of a fifth marriage, much like the reaction often given by close friend Elizabeth Taylor.
"I'm not going to get up to that number — what is it, 18?" Minnelli cracks, with her signature guffaw. (Eight, actually.) "Marriage is not right for me. I'm so happy now. I feel like my feet are on the ground and my head's in the sky."
Minnelli lets out a deep sigh when asked who of her many companions has been the love of her life.
"Uh, I don't know. Every relationship is different and wonderful at the time," she says. "I think you learn constantly from the people that you're attracted to. I have the best taste in friends and the worst taste in marriages."
But her first husband, Aussie song and dance man Peter Allen, to whom she was married from 1967-74, is a contender. "We remained friends up until the second he died," she offers, with a touch of melancholy. Allen died of AIDS in 1992.
Minnelli avoids talk of Gest, from whom she divorced last year. When reminded that he has not come up, she is quick to add, "And he won't!" Even so, she claims she wouldn't change one chapter in her life. "We meet each other for a reason, and things do go on. It's your choice how to remember things. You can concentrate on the bad and be neurotic. Or you can concentrate on the good and go forward, which is what I do."
With two new hips, Minnelli is able to jump and move in ways she hadn't been able to in years. She typically rises around 8 a.m. and dances with Lewis at The Martha Graham Dance Studio for up to two hours a day. "I practically live there," she says. "If I don't dance at least for 10 minutes a day, I don't feel right. Being there reminds me of my times with Martha (the famous choreographer who died in 1991) and Halston (her fashion designer friend who died of AIDS in 1990) and Bianca (Jagger), and that whole Studio 54 gang."
She has been redecorating her New York apartment as a tribute to her beloved father, director Vincente Minnelli, who died in 1986.
"I'm doing one wall in green velvet because my father's office at MGM was green." Her father's Oscar is displayed alongside the one she won for 1972's Cabaret, but Garland's Academy Award is in Los Angeles in a relative's home.
In the evenings, Minnelli enjoys watching TV crime shows before heading to bed around 10 p.m., sometimes accompanied by her stable of pets, including baby schnauzer Emelina, Emelina's son, Oscar, and three new puppies who are "still breast-feeding," she says. "We only have one more week, and then we've got to wean them."
Among her few regrets is that she was unable to have children. "You wish something had been a little different," she says. "But because I can't have children, what I do now is work with brain-injured kids. I feel like I have a hundred million kids, and they can count on me."
Minnelli is entertaining no thoughts of retiring. She just returned from Europe, where she performed eight shows of her new stage spectacular Pizzazz: The Kay Thompson Story. A New York production and accompanying album (produced by Phil Ramone) are in the works.
Thompson, who died just shy of her 100th birthday in 1998, was an actress, singer and Minnelli's godmother. The show, Minnelli says, "is about my memories of her. I don't think anybody realizes what a huge influence she was in my life and how brilliant my parents were to make her my godmother."
While in London, Minnelli and two gal pals caught a screening of Sex and the City: The Movie, which reminded her of how much she missed New York.
"If I feel down about something, I immediately go outside and see somebody who is worse off than I am, and that helps me," she says. And with the help of her new hips, "I never stop moving. I may die, but I'll never grow old."

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