By the time I was eleven I was hiring the household staff. I'd tell them that the hours wouldn't be the same as in other households, but that they wouldn't be asked to do anything outrageous. I'd call the police to check the chauffeurs' references. I began answering Mama's fan mail when I was eleven too. She paid me $3 a week until I complained that the work was too much for me; then I got $5 a week. When I was 14, I drove my sister and brother to school and back because our chauffeur was drunk all the time and Mama liked him too much to fire him.
WHEN you are Judy Garland's daughter, you don't grow up as other children do. Liza Minnelli, the only child of Judy's marriage to Director Vincente Minnelli, was born into a bizarre fairy tale in which she was destined to be both the princess and the scullery maid. Her life had a careening plot line with glittering characters and fantastic reversals of fortune. At one moment she was a pampered Hollywood brat; at another she was holding together a disintegrating ménage, playing nurse to Judy and Judy's sliding career, hiring servants they could no longer afford.
When you are Judy's daughter, performing is almost the only mode of existence you know. From her earliest days, Liza took in her mother's performances and visited her father's sets. She was "on" all the time. Recalls Kay Thompson, Liza's godmother and the author of the Eloise books: "The language of the house was: 'What time is rehearsal? When is the next recording session? The script has to be ready by tomorrow.' And it was all mixed with a great rushing to get to the studio."
Then, too, when you are Judy's daughter you inevitably grow up in your mother's shadow. In her early professional appearances, Liza had to face audiences that came to see her largely because she was "Judy Garland's kid" and were frankly skeptical about whether she could measure up to the name. In time she did—and then some. She played in an off-Broadway musical, starred in one on Broadway, and won roles in three movies. She made records, appeared on TV and went out on the nightclub circuit. At
an age when many performers are still living in fifth-floor walk-ups, Liza was earning close to a million dollars a year.
Today, a few weeks shy of 26, Liza has evolved in her own right into a new Miss Show Biz, a dazzlingly assured and completely rounded performer. The Justice Department should investigate her. She is a mini-conglomerate, an entertainment monopoly. In the new movie musical Cabaret, the full range of Liza's singing, dancing and acting talents dominates and steals a rambling and disorganized show (TIME, Feb. 21). As Sally Bowles, she is supposed to be a third-rate singer in a second-rate dive, belting out tunes to pay for schnapps and cigarettes. But as soon as she opens her mouth and begins strutting around the stage, the image—and some of the movie's credibility—goes happily haywire. Her liquid, throaty voice rises stylishly from a caress to pure, ringing brass. Her body—a broad-shouldered 5 ft. 5 in. with long showgirl legs—weaves a rhythm of its own even when she is standing still.