Call It Minnelli-Mania: 'Love, Liza' Auction Sneak Peak

Judy Garland_Vincente Minnelli_Liza Minnelli - Photofest - H 2018
Courtesy of Photofest

The Los Angeles Paley Center exhibit of Liza Minnelli items includes artwork, vintage gowns, rare photos and correspondence between Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli.

When Joe Maddalena got a call from Michael Feinstein and his associate last spring, he received an unusual request. The jazz and American songbook virtuoso needed Maddalena to sort through seven storage spaces of items belonging to his longtime performing partner, Liza Minnelli. As CEO of the preeminent Hollywood memorabilia auction house, Profiles in History, Maddalena took a look through thousands of items and was blown away by what he found. Not just a stash of dresses from top designers (a whole room is dedicated to Halston), but works by Andy Warhol and Annie Leibovitz, personal correspondence between Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli, vintage family photos and much more.

"Liza said, 'Purge, sell it! We've got to do something with it," Maddalena tells The Hollywood Reporter. His advice was to return the love to her adoring fans, which is precisely what she will do with some 2,000 lots going up for auction on an undetermined date in June. Proceeds will go to the Great American Songbook Foundation, established by Feinstein and dedicated to educational and performing arts programs. You can get a look at 150 of the items at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles through April 29.

"Judy Garland's screening copy of The Wizard of Oz," gushes Maddalena. "We found Judy Garland's test wig she wore for The Wizard of Oz as Dorothy! Nobody has ever had an auction as comprehensive. Celebrity correspondence, she was friends with everybody. Great letters from Betty Ford to her talking about their life and the Betty Ford Center."

Other to-die-for items include:

The Ruby Slippers — In 1974, when Minnelli married Jack Haley Jr., the son of the actor who played the Tin Man opposite Garland in The Wizard of Oz, she wore a pair of ruby slippers given her by her mother. "That's the magic of Hollywood," laughs Maddalena. "How ironic that you're marrying the Tin Man's son, you're wearing the ruby slippers!"

Fashion — Anchoring the main room are five outfits, four marking Minnelli's Academy Award appearances flanking the fifth, costume designer Charlotte Fleming's iconic black ensemble with bowler hat from 1972's Cabaret, for which Minnelli won the Oscar for best actress. The other outfits, all designed by Halston, include a blue-and-green sequin swirled number, a red sequin catsuit and jacket, a red paneled cape wrap and a sunflower yellow ensemble that she wore in 1974. These are just a few of roughly 70 outfits by blue-chip designers like Ralph Lauren, Gianni Versace, Christian Dior, Gucci and Givenchy.

Annie Leibovitz Portrait — A proof from Minnelli's shoot with the photographer in 1987 for the cover of Vanity Fair. It was the year of her landmark Carnegie Hall concerts, as well as the release of Rent-a-Cop, in which she starred opposite Burt Reynolds.

Andy Warhol Portrait — A portrait of the star with a bottle-brush haircut, shaved on the sides, and heavy makeup.

Family Photos — Including Minnelli's fourth birthday party, ballet class and a vintage original print of Minnelli as a toddler with her mother on the set of The Pirate in 1948. Minnelli would make her big-screen debut the following year in the end credits of In the Good Old Summertime.

Correspondence — Letters between Garland and Vincente Minnelli, including a handwritten note in a lipstick-stained envelope

Cabin in the Sky One-Sheet — According to Maddalena, this poster belonging to Vincente Minnelli from his 1943 Harold Arlen musical is one of only three known to exist.

DGA Award — Received by Vincente Minnelli for his 1958 musical, Gigi. He went on to win the Oscar for best director for the same film on his second nomination.

Also up for grabs is Liza Minnelli's personally hand-annotated script from Cabaret, her plaque acknowledging the Oscar nomination, her waitress costume from her 1981 movie Arthur and her baby Bible.

Profiles in History has set Guinness records with the organization's auctions, including Steve McQueen’s racing suit worn in Le Mans, which sold for $960,000, and the Cowardly Lion costume from The Wizard of Oz, which went for $805,000.

"It’s a comprehensive history of the Minnellis," Maddalena muses while looking around at the melange of gowns and memorabilia. "Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, if there was ever a bigger star ... this is Hollywood royalty."