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but she had a harder time with Director George Abbott, who gave her the part only because he could find no one else. Liza's revenge was that the critics booed the play and raved over her. She received the 1965 Tony Award as Best Actress in a Musical. At 19, she was the youngest actress-winner in the award's history.
When Flora closed, Ebb worked with her on a nightclub act. Not for the first time and not for the last, Liza realized how much her mother's aura hung over her. Ebb wrote a routine for her that opened with the songs Judy had taught her, then switched into a rock number—one of the songs she had taught Judy.
All in all, it was a graceful way of acknowledging her legacy from her mother without letting it overwhelm her. Making that acknowledgment has not always been so simple. Liza obviously adored Judy and talks about her frequently, but she is afraid of being swallowed by the legend. She consciously evokes Judy's ghost in her act but is resentful when middle-aged women with purple hair coo that she is Judy all over again. Judy seems to have had the same ambivalence. Though a doting mother, she was jealous when Liza sneaked off with some of her applause during their most notable joint appearance, at the London Palladium in 1964. "Judy was fighting for a love that she had had a long time," a friend says, reconstructing that memorable if unhappy event. "And here was a newcomer taking some of that love." At the end of the concert, Judy virtually shoved Liza off the stage.
Judy's death in 1969—the result, according to the coroner, of an accidental overdose of sleeping pills —was both a tragedy and a liberation for Liza. "When she died, I almost knew why," Liza says. "She let her guard down. She didn't die from an overdose. I think she just got tired. She lived like a taut wire. I don't think she ever looked for real happiness, because she always thought happiness would mean the end." In the midst of making the funeral arrangements, Liza was the calm center in the vortex, as she always had been where her mother was concerned. "Elevator men were falling around me weeping," she recalls. "I was the only one standing up. I got so mad at everybody. I remember yelling at someone: 'You cried for her when she sang Over the Rainbow and The Man That Got Away. Now at last she's at peace. Smile, for God's sake!' "
Just Perfecto. Liza clearly has no intention of letting her own guard down. Work is the one constant in her life. She plans to go on the concert circuit and hopes to play Zelda Fitzgerald in a film under her father's direction. Having paid off many of her mother's debts, Liza is now determined to make herself very rich. According to Martin Bregman, her business manager for seven years, she is doing a shrewder job of it than many stars. Besides some holdings in blue chip stocks, she owns various pieces of real estate, including part of a shopping center in New York.