Saturday, March 12, 2016

Happy Birthday, Liza Minnelli!


Liza Minnelli in New York, New York 1977
The regrets of yesterday and the fear of tomorrow can kill you.
-Liza Minnelli

Happy March 12th, 2016!
March 12 is the 72nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 294 days remaining until the end of the year.
Today is Liza Minnelli's birthday. Today is a celebration of Liza and what she means to me. It is also a through line of how she has featured into my life. I have been a fan of Liza's for as long as I can remember. My first recollection
Liza with Cort├ęs Alexander celebrating his birthday last year

of LIZA was in 1971 when Liza with a Z aired.
If my cousin Donna is reading this, she will recall us singing Liza with a Z all summer as we gathered tobacco. I grew up on a tobacco farm in South Carolina. 
I remember watching the special originally because she was Judy Garland's daughter.
Yes, I was a huge Judy Garland fan even at ten years of age! It was Judy that made me interested. It was Liza that made me remain a lifelong fan! I couldn't get enough. I looked through the TV Guide for her all too infrequent television appearances.

At that time, Rona Barrett was still carrying on an old tradition of the gossip magazines and Liza was frequently included. In the late 70s, I had decided that I was going to move to New York when I graduated from high school. Throughout the 70s, Liza continued to do movies and television specials.
I remember the first time that Cabaret aired on TV. Our next door neighbor, Miss Marian, invited me over to watch it with her.
We sat down to watch the film and it became clear to us right away that this was not your standard MGM musical! There was an edge and grittiness to this film that I did not appreciate until I was much older. My love of Liza continue beyond South Carolina and right into my moving to New York.   

Thank God for film, it can capture a moment and hold it there forever.Liza Minnelli
Reality is something you rise above. Liza Minnelli 

The first time I saw Liza LIVE was in 1983 at Radio City Music Hall at the premiere of the restored version of A Star is Born

Don't listen to anyone who doesn't know how to dream. Liza Minnelli!

Even though Liza was on stage for just a moment to introduce the film, it was a thrill to see her.

The Rink opened on Broadway on February 9, 1984 at the Martin Beck Theatre, now the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Two days before my 23rd birthday. At the time, I was working for the Green Room Answering Service on the same street. Remember answering services? I was living the life of Ella Peterson from Bells Are Ringing. Truly! A side job I also had at the time was singing telegrams for Eastern Onion. (I also worked part time in their office) 
Being the Liza fan that I am, I decided to send myself as a singing telegram to her on her birthday! I called the office of the Martin Beck Theatre and said I was calling from the office of
Eastern Onion and that we had just received a request to send a singing telegram to Liza and we needed to verify this before we put the request through. They said they would get back to me. Three days later I got a call verifying the birthday and a specific time for me to arrive!  I was bursting at the seams! We booked it for March 15th which was a matinee day.
I arrived at The Martin Beck Theatre an hour before the evening curtain. I was waearing my pink ruffled shirt, flashing bow tie, red tuxedo jacket with tails, black satin pants, and black patent
leather shoes. You couldn't miss me if you tried. I was, however, a nervous wreck. I had visions and thoughts of being found out and loosing my job.
They told me to wait off on the side until Liza arrived. I had never been backstage at a Broadway theatre before and this was very exciting to me.
She came in with a flurry of activity swirling around her. I sat for what seemed like an eternity. I thought my heart was going to burst through my chest, it was pounding so heavily. Eventually, someone came over to me and walked me across the stage and to Liza's dressing room.
I knocked on the door and she asked me to come in. When I walked in, she took one look at me and burst out laughing. I did our standard birthday song to the tune of Stars and Stripes Forever complete with Liza's New York, New York gestures. I finished and she jumped up and hugged me. She said to me, "If I had talent like that, I would go into show business!" She asked my name. Then she wanted to know who sent the "telegram". I thought quickly and said, "Skip Richards". She laughed again and asked if I had seen the show. I had not. She asked for her assistant to arrange two tickets for that night's show!
Louise Quick
I practically flew out of there. I ran over to the Green Room Answering Service and began to excitedly tell one of my co-workers, Louise, about my experience. She listened intently and then said, "That's no big deal. I've worked with Liza a lot. As a matter of fact, we did Cabaret together, Liza With a Z, and various other projects! I was Bob Fosse's assistant." I thought she was crazy! About a year later, I'm doing stock and on the late show Cabaret was on. As I watched it, I sat up and took notice during the Two Ladies number. That looked like Louise! At the end, during the credits, there was her name with a box around it, Louise Quick! I called her in the middle of the night and she just laughed and said, "I told you so!"
Louise and I remained close friends until her untimely death a few years ago. I think of her often but especially on Liza's birthday every year! I ended up seeing The Rink six times during Liza's run in the show. I never saw it without her.
I have been lucky enough to see Liza many times in concert since then. Liza prematurely left The Rink to go to the Betty Ford Center for substance abuse. Her first New York concert after that was scheduled for July 1985. It got
cancelled due to a massive rain storm. It was rescheduled for September. The day of the storm, massive rain storm. The forecasters were predicting that the weather would clear up by showtime. It did and she went on a little late due to the rain. It would be the first of many concers I would see over the years. Hopefully, there will be more. I could go on with more but I have to run! Liza, I LOVE YOU! You are my Holy Grail! How, about an interview? I want to celebrate you in a major way!

The Following was sent to me this morning from Henning Sebastian Jahre :LIZA MINNELLI celebrates her 70s Birthday
Anniversary:-))

I am so glad you responded to my birthday gratulation:-) What can I say? You are The Soul Of ShowBusiness and indeed has been nicknamed the Queen of Hollywood AND the Queen of Broadway:-) You have a God-given energy and talent that has inspired me since I was around 16 years of age..... In 1989 I swa you live with Sinatra and Sammy and 16 years later Trygve Dukane surprised me with the best surprise EVER------ MANY MANY happy returns sweet soul:-)

T
ranslated from my diary, recorded on October 20, 2005 at 11:26

I think that both GOD and JUDY GARLAND smiled down at me yesterday and proclaimed "Let`s give this boy the time of his life..."
By the way, I`m having a ball at the moment, but as I went to town I had silent praires... "I had to see, meet and talk to her...."
 

Add caption
As she entered the stage I was mad with ovation - We sat on the 4th row(wrong it was 3d - updated February 17 2008) - in the middle of the Oslo Concert Hall and watched LIZA MINNELLI. The last time I saw her was on April 13, 1989 with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr at the Ekeberg Hall.

 The audience was generally quite grown up, but WE ALL EXPLODED:)(:...... Young as old... we screamed our cheers... Carnegie Hall had come to the Oslo Concert Hall.
Liza... You ARE EVEN BETTER THAN EVER!!! And I`ve got 4 videoshots on my mobile as a testament of it(I`ve got ALL of Theme from New York, New York)...

When you introduced "Sailor Boys" I screamed out and you smiled down at me - you did that several times.... I just enjoyed you gal - my daughter hehehe - You wanted to sing a song from "Chicago"and I shouted out "All That Jazz"..... You smiled and said, "Not THAT 1...." Afterwards you gave me a smiling pointed finger hehehe...



Then you started to talk about Mama, that you were at Carnegie Hall in 1961, I yelled again and you said "Oh you got the album??????" - then told the story of how Mama(JUDY GARLAND) made you give a pair of shoes to the drummer(Bill LaVorgnia whom I also saw in 1989) who in fact you felt was ACE. "He`s the BEST and we`ll keep him in the family. AND I ALWAYS DID WHAT MY MAMA TOLD ME!!!"

 Then you asked "Do you want MAYBE THIS TIME or THE WORLD GOES `ROUND?... With help I yelled for the first suggestion and GOT MY WILL:)(:...
Ken Fallin

After "New York" I run up on stage and shook your hand exstatically; you have soft, glorious hands my girl and the look and smile you gave me, likewise...

 YOU WERE GRATEFUL for the cheering and shouting in front of you and finished the session with an a`capella version of I`LL BE SEEING YOU.
Afterwards we stood by the stagedoor and some 30 minutes later you did come out and I said "Thanks for a good show..." You replied "You were good too,... " "Did you see me???" The answer was a sarcastic/humerous "NO!" hahahahahahahahahahahaha
We took the first picture together and you took a paper out of my hands and wrote "LOVE LIZA"... You were so humble, good and nice.... MAMA WOULD HAVE BEEN PROUD:-)))

I do feel that FORCES CAME ABOUT AND GAVE ME

Al Hirschfeld
SOMETHING I`D NEVER EVEN DARE TO DREAM ABOUT...
THANKS FOR MY BEST EXPERIENCE IN CONCERT EVER LIZA MINNELLI.... Indeed you are the king AND queen(a quatation from Theme from New York, New York)... I will dine on this for the rest of my life...

 After the concert we went to the London Pub and many had seen and heard me in the audience hehe - I took a drink - sat down by myself and cried.... of gratitude... That I would experience something like this...... Me....... 

- Henning Sebastian Jahre

And from Ken Fallin: HAPPY BIRTHDAY....LIZA MINNELLI....SEVENTY!!!!
Ken Fallin

First two drawings are mine, and third is Hirschfeld's drawing of Liza as Little Red Riding Hood. I own the original, which hangs in my "studio".


I also received this:
Liza's wedding to Peter Allen

Dear Richard:
So happy you are doing this.
My memories of Liza are so numerous, many from the audience and many personal. I remember seeing her the first time at the Greek Theatre in 1971. She'd just come back from making Cabaret and she wore the purple dress in the end. She was amazingly beautiful, her marble skin, dark hair and dark eyes. When she sang "It Was a Good Time" she blew it over the top in a way I don't think any camera or recording
device could capture.
Much later in the 1980s in Maryland I had the privilege of sitting in a seat preserved for special people. I was so close, and I could see Liza working it. Like the ocean before the final slap of the way, she pushed the song forward with all her energy and just before the end, pulled it back a little and then pushed it forward. I could not believe the energy coming from her. She connected with each audience member she could, looking right in our eyes, talking to us.
I've seen Liza blow an audience away at Carnegie Hall and other places but what I remember even more than that is seeing off stage. She was funny, kind and thoughtful. When one young fan nearly fainted she told him, "This is only show business, not life and death." How wise. And I will always remember how, a short time after my mother died I met her after a performance. She looked in my eye and must have seen my deep sorrow. "Oh, honey." Then she put her arms around me and held me until I was okay.
This after a two hour performance. When I complimented her on her show about her father - from the heart, she said, "Oh honey, you don't know how much this means to me."
That was and is Liza. She can never knew how much all she has done has meant to us.
Thanks again for what you are doing, Richard. Have a good day.
Michelle Russell

Thank you Liza Minnelli for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give! Her's to the next 70 years!

With grateful XOXOXs ,

 



 

Check out my site celebrating the legacy of Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly!
Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland performing Hello, Dolly! at The London Palladium 1964

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Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    
            
TODAY: Will Friedwald and Lynn DiMenna celebrate Dinah Shore
Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM
322 W 48th St, New York, New York 10036 ring:
Lynn DiMenna
Meredith DiMenna
Margi Gianquinto
Kimberly Hawkey
Jeff MacAuley
and your host, Will Friedwald
Music Director: Paul Greenwood
Bass: Tom Hubbard
Drums: Eric Halvorsen

Dinah Shore was one of the most beloved female pop singers of all time. Whether she was singing on the radio, hosting her own variety show or TV's talk show queen, she was "America's Sweetheart!"
Please join Will Friedwald, Lynn DiMenna and a cast of "Dinahphiles" to celebrate her 100th birthday on Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Doors open at 12:30. Program promptly at 2PM
$15.00 at door for NON-Members/$50.00 to join
Richard Skipper is the EXCLUSIVE publicist for American Popular Song Society. For press reservations, interview requests, or more information, contact Richard Skipper at Richard@RichardSkipper.com or 845-365-0720
http://www.americanpopularsongsociety.org
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NEXT UP April 9th



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Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
Liza with Cortes Alexander
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The Metropolitan Room Presents...


David Meulemans returns in Lucky To Be Me! Directed by the incredible Sally Mayes with great musical direction by Tex Arnold. David will take all of us on a great musical romp through the ups and downs of his life.David Meulemans combines a love for the American Songbook with his classically trained voice to entertain audiences from Miami to New York, London and around the nation.  In a recent review, Charles Truenski describes David’s performance of “Lucky to Be Me” at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Room, as “a perfect night of cabaret” stating this is the kind of cabaret New York City needs more of.  A popular leading man in South Florida musical theatre, David brings his comfortable style, passion for music and remarkable vocal talents to every project he tackles, with humor, heart and joy.   
This show WILL sell out! So reserve today and be a part of his star studded audience!
This is a CD Release Event! ALL in attendance rwill receive complementary copy of Lucky To Be Me: Recorded LIVE at the Metropolitan Room August 22nd, 2015

http://metropolitanroom.com/event.cfm?id=222431
MARCH 19th in NYC
Richard Skipper Celebrates is the publicist for David Meulemans and Lucky To Be Me at NYC's Metropolitan Room. ! For press reservations, interview requests, or more information, contact Richard Skipper at Richard@RichardSkipper.com or 845-365-0720








1 comment:

  1. A great blog, Richard, and celebration of one of our greatest performers of the Twentieth Century- Liza Minnelli. I loved your description of discovering Liza and then going to sing "Happy Birthday" to her at the theatre. I was right there with you as you told it. Interestingly, I moved to New York also, in part, because of Liza. I knew she had done it, even sleeping on a bench by Central Park - to fulfill her dreams and so I said, "If Liza could do it, then I have." Throughout the years she has has been an inspiration that cannot be over estimated. Thank you, Liza! And thank you, Richard for writing this blog.

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