I need not introduce this lady, she’s a total living legend born into show business to parents Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli at a time the film and music industry needed a star like her. With a huge career spanning over 65 years beginning with a cameo appearance as a squirmy 2 year old to being the iconic performer she is known as today; covering theatre, film and music ground alike – she is a woman to behold. This exclusive interview is a total honour for me so without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Fräulein Sally Bowles herself – Liza Minnelli.
How are you?
‘I feel terrific, and I’m busy working hard. I’ve just moved back to Los Angeles from New York after…well practically my whole life! The weather is kinder here and it feels like coming home. I was born here and lived her until I was 15 or 16 so it’s good to be back.’
What does the remainder of 2015 hold for you?
‘I’m rehearsing a new show, putting in songs people like but also some they haven’t heard before. So it will be a big surprise. I hope to bring it to the UK next year, but at the moment I’m so looking forward to coming in September for the show we’re doing in Sheffield. I’ll be answering a lot of questions about my life and of course singing a few songs at the end. It’ll be really intimate, something I never done before.’
How did show business start for you?
‘My first appearance was at the end of the film ‘In the Good Old Summertime’ – a film with momma and Van Johnson! I’m two and a half! Van Johnson picks me up and you can see me squirm as I suddenly realized I’d forgotten to put panties on and could feel his hand…well! My mother encouraged me as did everyone in my life – my father, my godmother Kay Thompson, Fred Ebb & John Kander – my wonderful composers who ‘invented’ what I do onstage — everyone encouraged me, especially, not to give in or to compromise.’
It’s been said that the world of fame and show business has changed so rapidly since the 60’s and 70’s, do you think it has?
‘It’s a lot faster now, and a lot harder, but talent shines through. If you have the talent you’ll make it. And it’s exciting. Listen, it’s not in my nature to look back, you have to look forward. What’s today going to offer? If you spend time regretting yesterday, and time worrying about tomorrow you’re not enjoying today!’
Sally Bowles [Liza’s role in Cabaret, 1972] was and still is such an iconic character, what does she mean to you?
‘The film was a high mark in my career and it’s a Fosse masterpiece. I loved playing Sally Bowles. Especially creating the ‘look’ with my dad. The only 30’s star I knew was Marlene Dietrich so was thinking about Sally being blonde. It was my dad who showed me pictures of artists such as Theda Bara and Louise Brooks – all dark haired 30’s stars. So I got some hair dye, bought some eyelashes, cut my hair and went and showed Fosse, he opened his door and I said to him “What do you think of this?” He said “What did you…what? Oh, it’s pretty good!” And that’s how the look came about.’
You look like you’re having the time of your life in everything that you do, does that come naturally or do you have to build yourself up to it?
‘Listen, that is how I was taught. I was not taught self-pity. I was not taught to give up. I was taught to do what I think and follow a dream. I’m a dancer at heart. I’m an athlete. I think when you have that basis, there’s an overall discipline to get out on stage, give 100% and enjoy it.’
Can you tell me a stand our moment from your career?
‘Usually it’s what I’m doing at this moment. So I guess it will be appearing in Sheffield in September!’
If you had the chance to work with anybody, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
‘I love Gaga, she is so determined and I love that she has chosen to look the way she does…and what a voice!’
If you hadn’t gone into show business, what would you have liked to have done and why?
‘I wanted to be a professional ice skater. But I went to see the Broadway production of ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ and that convinced me I had to be on stage, singing and dancing. I’d never seen a group of teenagers my age in a show before. And as I’d grown up in Hollywood I knew I wanted to work in New York. So I got myself there, auditioned and finally got a role in ‘Best Foot Forward’…the rest, as they say, is history
What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever received and who was it from?
‘That’s a hard question because I’ve been lucky to work with so many incredible people who have all shared advice with me, but the advice I’d give is to thine own self be true. It’s certainly how I’ve always tried to live my life.’
What advice would you give to anyone who’s aspiring to do something?
‘Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.’
By Ellie Greenfield.
You can catch Liza at Sheffield City Hall on September 22nd where she’ll be talking about her life and singing a few numbers. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to see an icon so don’t miss out. Ticket still available from the City Hall website.