How an 18-Time Grammy Award Winner Became One of Liza Minnelli’s Early Mentors

Today, Liza Minnelli is one of the few living performers who can claim coveted EGOT status; she is an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award winner. The all-around entertainer took home the Oscar in 1973 for Cabaret — the same year she won the Emmy for Outstanding Single Program for Liza With a Z. She won the Legends Award at the Grammys in 1991, and the triple threat took home her first Tony in 1978 for The Act. She claimed a second Tony in 2009 for Special Theatrical Event following Liza’s at the Palace, which ran for a month from December of 2018 to January of 2019. 

Liza Minnelli
Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles | Allied Artists /Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Yet, before Liza Minnelli became the fierce performer and showbiz personality she is today, she had a little help from the cream of the crop. It may have helped that the only and only Judy Garland was her mother. 

Tony Bennett was one of Liza Minnelli’s early entertainment mentors 

Tony Bennett is 94 years old, and he’s still kicking it. In 2014, he released Cheek to Cheek: An assortment of jazz duets with pop star Lady Gaga. From big band numbers to showtunes and jazz classics, Bennett has been serenading audiences with his easy-listening voice for decades. 

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The man has earned 18 Grammys and was nominated 36 times, according to Grammy.com. And, though he may not have had as many awards when he helped Minnelli on her rise to fame, he was already quite the celebrated performer. 

It all started the night Tony Bennett knocked on Liza Minnelli and Tanya Everett’s door

Liza Minnelli met Tony Bennett when she was living with actor Tanya Everett, as Variety reports. Minnelli and Everett became roommates the same night they met. One night, back in the 1960s, Bennett knocked at their door, and he came on in. 

Bennett sat down at the piano that Minnelli’s father gifted her and asked Minnelli to sing along while he played. She sang. Variety explained that Bennett soon became one of Minnelli’s mentors, as did the French Armenian singer Charles Aznavour, who Minnelli credits for most of her theatrical physical gestures.

By the time Bennett began mentoring Minnelli, he had already released several albums, including Because of You, Cloud 7, Alone at Last With Tony Bennett, Tony, The Beat of My Heart, Long Ago and Far Away, and more. 

Minnelli had many talented influences in her life, and she yearned to perform in a way that starkly contrasted her mom’s performance tendencies, as Variety reports. Thus, she took shticks and tricks from entertainers nothing like Garland, combining them to become the beloved Liza with a Z, who fans know and love.