Liza Minnelli Took It as a ‘Great Compliment’ When Mom Judy Garland Was Jealous of Her

Liza Minnelli, an award-winning actor and singer, grew up in a successful show business family. Her father, Vincente Minnelli, was a director, but Minnelli’s career path aligned more closely with her mother, Judy Garland’s. This became increasingly apparent when Minnelli began performing with her mother. Minnelli noted that there were times when Garland seemed jealous of her. She took this as a compliment.

A black and white photo of Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland hugging each other.
Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland | Regan/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Liza Minnelli followed in her mother Judy Garland’s footsteps 

Garland was an actor and singer known by many for her role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. She was also a talented musical performer, a career path that attracted Minnelli. Like her mother, she hoped to pursue a career in show business. Garland wasn’t sure if she wanted this.

“I look at my three fine children and wonder whether I would want them to be entertainers, too,” Garland once wrote, per The New York Times. “Applause alone doesn’t sustain you at 3 a.m., when you can’t sleep.”

When Minnelli told Garland that she wanted to leave the Sorbonne, where she attended classes, to try to make it as a performer, Garland tried to think of ways to convince her to stay in school. Ultimately, though, she allowed Minnelli to leave and offered her advice: “Watch me, learn from me and learn from my mistakes.”

Liza Minnelli said that she noticed a time when Judy Garland appeared to be jealous of her

Minnelli did find success as an entertainer and performed with her mother on more than one occasion. She shared that she recognized the exact moment when Garland realized she was talented. 

“We went through what women go through for years in literally two hours,” Minnelli said in 1984. “It was like Mama suddenly realized I was good, that she didn’t have to apologize for me. It was the strangest feeling. One minute I was on stage with my mother, the next moment I was on stage with Judy Garland. One minute she smiled at me, and the next minute she was like the lioness that owned the stage and suddenly found somebody invading her territory.”

Minnelli said the moment made both women laugh afterward, particularly when she did an impression of her mother.

“She said, ‘Liza, I thought you’d be so cute out there and so darling — my little baby girl. And then you put one foot forward and one hip went back just on the right beat, and the hand went out, and I thought, Oh my God, I’ve got to be good now — this kid ain’t fooling around.’”

Minnelli believed that Garland felt a flash of jealousy when she realized her daughter was talented. She described the brief display of emotion from her mother as a “great compliment.”

The performer says she has a hard time convincing people she had a happy childhood

Minnelli, who inspired the children’s book character Eloise, said her childhood was marked by long periods of not seeing Garland. Despite this asserted that she had a happy childhood, something she says people don’t seem to believe.

‘There’s nothing I can say to convince people that I had a happy childhood,” she said, adding that Garland “ensured my happiness as a kid. I know what happened to me, and I know that I’m fine – you know, working and going forward. And I’m sorry — I’m terribly sorry if I’m not unhappy. It’s not my fault I’m happy and I have been for most of my life.”

RELATED: Frank Sinatra Violently Defended a Young Liza Minnelli After a Man Insulted Her Singing