On March 11, 1965, “Flora the Red Menace” opened at 52nd Street’s Alvin theater. The show’s star, Liza Minnelli, was just shy of 19 (her birthday was the following day), but she handled her Broadway debut like a vet. “As Flora, the Innocent Red Menace, Liza Minnelli is an enthusiastic love-me,” began WWD’s write-up. But instead of going into the details of her stellar performance ­— one that would make her the youngest person ever to win a Tony Award at the time — the piece gave readers a little insider knowledge about the quirky young star.

Ms. Minnelli had several visitors the morning of her interview with WWD. But throughout the parade of workers and well-wishers — which included costume designer Donald Brooks, lyricist Fred Ebb, director George Abbott, and several female cast members and stagehands seeking autographs — Liza stayed warm and voluble. She mentioned she loved to dance, especially at parties and discos. And though the club scenesters tended to be a little affected, she didn’t mind because they were so amusing: “What is really deadly,” she said, “is to be affected and dull.”

And Minnelli seemed to show some knowledge about clothes and makeup, despite her signature tousled hair. Most of her clothes were tailored, from Upper East Side shops like Jak, and she liked to wear a few youthquake minis “when they were not too far out.” She loved hats and had apparently learned a few makeup tricks from a model friend (i.e. she wore false eyelashes and used blusher to define her chin line). But the learning curve was still evident. “I wish I could get my eyebrows on straight,” she admitted, with a resigned laugh.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus