Here is the full quote, as said to Rona Barrett:
Some people think reality must be constantly depressing, but I think reality is something you rise above.
There is no denying the talent: An Academy Award, Emmy Award, Tony Award, Grammy Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe all sit on her mantle. She is one of only 17 people to have won them all.
For me, Liza Minnelli was rather miscast in her most famous role, Sally Bowles in Cabaret, a character decidedly marked by her lack of talent. Yet, it is bad casting that worked out rather nicely. Minnelli was wrong for the role, yet she made it her own and ruined it for every actor that followed.
Through the ups and downs, the drugs and booze, the weight gains and losses, and the marriages, just when she seems a joke, Minnelli redeems and reinvents herself with choices like Results, her terrific 1989 album with Pet Shop Boys.
Minnelli’s performing style is so: “Please, Please, Love Me”, that I find it simply rude not to. She keeps on giving and giving and demanding love.
Minnelli has been performing since she was two-years old. Just four years ago, she gave a series of concerts in the UK, including a night at The Palladium, the same venue of her mother’s famous comeback concerts in 1964. Her mother Judy Garland died with a huge debt. Minnelli has bills to pay too:
I had two business managers and they’re both in jail! I mean, Marty Scorsese and I had the same business manager… and he’s in the clink! Luckily, now I insist on always signing my own checks. You learn a little bit as you go along.
She was just 19-years old on the opening night of the Broadway musical Flora The Red Menace, and her mother was there to cheer her on. Garland proclaimed to Donald Brooks, the show’s costume designer:
Can you believe that’s Liza up there? We did that! You got her up there looking the way she does. And I got her up there because I’m her mother and conceivably her inspiration — the heck with her motivation.
Garland’s competitive spirit was not lost on young Minnelli:
It was like Mama suddenly realized I was good, that she didn’t have to apologize for me. It was the strangest feeling. One minute I was on stage with my mother, the next moment I was on stage with Judy Garland. One minute she smiled at me, and the next minute she was like the lioness that owned the stage and suddenly found somebody invading her territory. The killer instinct of a performer had come out in her.
Minnelli’s early success brought her money. But, Garland’s drug and alcohol abuse, along with her financial woes, only gotten worse. The daughter became her mother’s caretaker and provider because the showbiz must go on.
Minnelli has always been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ people. She claims that she was the one who told Elizabeth Taylor about HIV/AIDS while talking about their mutual friend, Rock Hudson. She has given a lot time to Taylor’s organization, amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research).
Minnelli has long been associated with the music of gay songwriters John Kander and Fred Ebb, and in 1994 she recorded their song The Day After That, donating the proceeds to amfAR. She performed the song in front of thousands of fans at a Central Park concert on the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
On a lovely spring day in 1977, I followed her for several blocks until she arrived at the Russian Tea Room, where she met Lauren Bacall in the doorway with a kiss. I followed the pair of stars inside and sat at the bar, but I couldn’t bring myself to approach her. I may have seen her at Studio 54 during that same era, who knows, what with the Quaaludes, cocaine, and the Champagne; maybe I just thought I saw her with Halston, Bianca and Andy.
Listen, everyone ages but not everyone has to get old. I’ve never lost my curiosity and I think that keeps you young.