Pretty in the Past: Liza Minnelli

Once again I am ever-so-slightly ignoring your wishes, dear readers, and plumping for a Pretty in the Past subject who is close to my own heart. Hey, I’m the one who has to write this thing so I get to choose ok?
Publish date:
August 1, 2012
liza minnelli, pretty in the past, jazz hands, cabaret

Liza aged 19 in 1965

Good ol’ Liza ‘jazz hands’ Minnelli high-kicked her way into my heart in Cabaret and I’ve loved watching her evolution into a proper glamorous grand dame of pop culture. Remember her duet with the Pet Shop Boys? Oh Liza-with-a-Z, you may well have been losing your mind, but you did it with such panache we forgive you!

Of course she’s the daughter of the late, great Judy Garland who was blessed with a heartbreakingly beautiful face and fabulous voice and Liza was always very different to her mum - her looks edgier and her voice huskier and more soulful - but just as showbiz.

The iconic look that she created for her character Sally Bowles in Cabaret is one of the most memorable and imitated in cinematic history and the jet-black crop, heavily made-up eyes and kinky costumes became synonymous with Liza herself in the swinging ‘60s.

Liza Minnelli Cabaret

It was a hyper-exaggerated, camp look that made her as big a gay icon as her mother, perhaps because all that slap made her face into a mask that she – or her character – could hide her true feelings behind. A lot of people identify with that; the beauty of make-up is that it allows you to transform yourself into the person you feel you are on the inside, which might not match the exterior you were born with.

Liza Minnelli Cabaret

I love Liza because she’s not ‘pretty’ in the soft, easy-on-the-eye sense of the word. Her features are bold, strong, challenging and she embraces that, exaggerating her huge, sad eyes, turning her wide mouth scarlet with lipstick, making the most of her rubbery, expressive face, refusing to be ashamed of it.

Liza Minnelli Cabaret

Someone once said I look like Liza Minnelli and I wasn’t sure if they meant it as a compliment, but that’s how I’m going to take it because she is absolutely fabulous.

Picture Credit: Rex Features