‘Cabaret’ Oscar-winner Liza Minnelli past, present and future

Thelma Adams
Yahoo! Movies Oscars Blog

Forty years ago, a literary musical based on a dark chapter in European history swept the Oscars with eight awards - "Cabaret." The racy movie, now available on Blu-Ray, made Liza Minnelli, the daughter of Judy Garland and director Vincente Minnelli, a screen musical star. In 1973, Minnelli beat rivals Diana Ross for "Lady Sings the Blues" and Maggie Smith for "Travels with my Aunt" for best actress.

Minnelli jumped on the phone with Yahoo! Movies to reminisce about the landmark musical that resulted in ten nominations and eight wins:

  • Playing on set while Dad directed: "I remember being up in the rafters throwing confetti with Gene Kelly's daughter in "American in Paris" during the black-and-white ball sequence. I used to go after school. The studio was like my playground."
  • Did Liza always want to be a musical star? "No. I wanted to be an ice skater but then I saw 'Bye Bye Birdie' when I was thirteen and that changed everything.
  • How did Liza get the starring role of Sally Bowles in her first movie musical? "I was the first one cast in the movie -- before Director Bob Fosse or Joel Grey or anybody. I talked to the show's producer and I always I knew that I would do that movie."
  • Those false eyelashes, that black bob: who came up with Sally's unconventional look? "I did. I talked to my father because as far as I was concerned I thought everybody in the 1930s looked like Marlene Dietrich: blonde, tall and thin. Dad showed me pictures of Theda Bara and Louise Brooks. Then I found the lady that made those eyelashes and I tried them and I thought Sally had to think of herself as strange and extraordinary. So, I died my hair, put on all my makeup and knocked on Fosse's door and said, 'so what do you think?' He nearly fell over!"
  • The birth of Fosse's trademark jazz hands: "Bob didn't know I was that good a dancer, so when he found out he really went to town in the number 'Mein Herr' on the chair. Fosse had made 'Sweet Charity' and this was his next film."
  • Oscars ensued - eight for the film including best actress: "It felt right when everybody else got it, but I was sure Diana [Ross] was going to win so when they said my name I was so surprised. And so was my father. In fact, he screamed in my ear and I still have tinnitus from him."
  • They're still close: "Forty years have passed and we're still close. I see Joel all the time."
  • Up next: Alan Cumming! "I'm on tour and about to go to Europe. I'm performing at a benefit concert with Alan Cumming. He starred in 'Cabaret' on stage, you know...

Right then, Liza's assistant interrupts to say, "Liza, I'm sorry, the band is waiting."

Watch a behind-the-scenes Blu-ray bonus clip from 'Cabaret':