Liza Minnelli, daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli, goddaughter to Ira Gershwin, shares more memories. / Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Liza Minnelli, 66, looks back on show business, her career thus far and what she’s learned. “Now I take things with humor, gratitude and curiosity,” she says.
What else does she have to say?
More life lessons from parents, Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli:
“If something horrible has happened to you in your past and is bothering you and nobody else, rewrite it. It’s not easy, but if you go back you can always find something funny.”
What would you tell your 26-year-old self?
“Always be a moving target and don’t talk so fast.”
Thoughts about American Idol and The Voice?
“What they don’t tell people is that you can win a show, but if you don’t have a hit, bye bye. Andy Warhol said, ‘At one point, everybody will be famous for 15 minutes.’ It’s 15 seconds. They’re promoting being famous, not enjoying the work.”
Was that your priority?
“No. When I started, I moved scenery. I did anything I could do. It was wonderful. You were a part of it.”
“When I was 16, I was working as an apprentice in a theater. I got my first part. I danced for 15 seconds in a show called Take Me Along, and I couldn’t believe it. I quickly learned that if you’re on Broadway, you have to act and dance and sing.”
Who influenced you?
“Charles Aznavour. I fell in love with him at 18. I saw him once and thought, ‘Holy Toledo! That’s what I want to do. I want to tell this story. Every song is a different person. It’s so personal,’” she said. “I met him and asked him to be my mentor. He introduced me in Paris, and I became famous there before here."
What's the best thing about being on stage?
“Being on stage. I feel like a racehorse at the gate,” she said. “I’m a Broadway-trained performer, and it has to be right. When you’re talking, it can’t sound like a script. I feel like there’s never a wall between me and the audience. We’re in it together. We might as well have fun.”
If it hadn't worked out?
“I’d have been an ice skater. Now if I couldn’t (perform), I’d teach. Actually I do teach acting and song at The Actors Studio.”
What are you listening to?
“A lot of Ella Fitzgerald.” She did all the albums of different writers. When I was young, because I was shy I didn’t know how to express myself, I would listen to a song and think, ‘That’s how I feel.’ It’s the same thing that happens now, but it happens in rock.
“When you’re 11 and strolling out by the pool and singing Down in the Depths on the 90th Floor, it’s funny. Those were the songs that interested me because they were like talking. That’s how I learned all the songs. When other kids were collecting stamps, I collected lyrics.”
Where do you keep your Oscar?
“In the den on a bookcase. I also have my father’s Oscar for Gigi in there.”
What's your secret talent?
“Needlepoint. I do it obsessively. I make up my own designs for footstools and pillows. They’re freestyle. I’m not saying they’re great, but they’re interesting. It’s my dad’s influence — different colors, different sizes, something you don’t expect but makes sense in the end.”