Liza Minnelli

  1. Diane Dick, Annie Get Your Gun, 1949.     At two  years old, Liza had been her mother Judy Garland’s daughter at the end of In The Good Old Summertime, directed by dad, Vincente  Minnelli, in 1948.   So at three, she was set for Annie Oakley’s  baby sister until the mighty MGMusical imploded when Judy was sacked. 
  2. Charmian Carr, The Sound of Music, 1964.      Judy Garland’s daughter was in director Robert Wise’s loop for Liesel Von Trapp – with three other repo babies: Charlie’s Geraldine Chaplin, Maureen O’Sullivan’s Mia Farrow and Ann Sothern’s Tisha Sterling. Plus Kim Darby, Patty Duke, Sharon Tate and Lesley Ann Warren. Critic Pauline Kael famously tried to bury “the sugar-coated lie that people seem to want to eat” but it saved Fox from the near bankruptcy  of the Cleopatra debacle.
  3. Connie Francis, When the Boys Meet the Girls,1965. Hamilton was a silly choice for heading MGM’s second version of the Gershwin brothers’  30s musical, Girl Crazy – the first in, ’42,  had been a Mickey and Judy doing-the-show-right-here  number. One suit pointed out that George was no singing terpsichorean, another suggested using the kids.  Whose?  Judy Garland’s daughter, Liza Minnelli, 19, and a Mickey Rooney son. Which one? Any one! Three were available: Teddy, 15; Mickey Jnr, 19; Tim, 20. Producer Sam Katzman preferred crooner Jack Jones. And his tour opened the door for Presnell, the current Camelot stage star. And the Hit Parade’s Connie.

  4. Vanessa Redgrave, Camelot, 1966.
    For his last hurrah after 45 years running Warner Bros, head bro Jack L Warner – having learned his lesson the hard way by ruining My Fair Lady – wanted the original Broadway stars to reprise their 1960 roles of King Arthur and Guenevere. Richard Burton was not keen (or not for the money on offer).  Nor was Julie Andrews, certainly not after the way Jack Warner dumped her from My Fair Lady (even though that led to her Mary Poppins Oscar).  ).  “OK, we’ll take Liz, as well,” said Warner.  And why not their mate, Peter O’Toole, as Lancelot.  However, Elizabeth Taylor was not going where Burton was not going…  Julie refused  to work with Burton’s replacement, Richard Harris. They had not got on during Hawaii  which is where he first heard about the film and started pushing to be the king.  Top candidates to succeed Julie were  Julie Christie, Petula Clark, Marianne Faithfull, Audrey Hepburn(part of her My Fair Lady deal), Liza Minnelli, Elizabeth Taylor Jan Waters. Jack Warner separately considered the way cheaper Ann-Margret, Polly Bergen, Cher, Mitzi Gaynor and  Shirley Jones. Vanessa and  Franco Nero (as Lancelot) were lovers on and off the screen. They finally wed in  2006.

  5. Michelle Lee, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, 1967.     Liza talked with  the producers.  And walked.
  6. Patty Duke, Valley Of The Dolls,  1967.    The 30s-50s’ actress Jacqueline Susan wanted both Judy and Liza in the film of her best-seller.  Judy as Helen Lawson, based on Ethel Merman – and Liza as Neeley, based… on Judy! Indeed, ‘twas her pills and  booze that had Judy fired and replaced by Susan Hayward.  
  7. Mia Farrow, The Great Gatsby, 1973.      Passed on Daisy Buchanan. Quite right, too.   The other possibilities included Candice Bergen, Lois Chiles, Julie Christie, Faye Dunaway, Ali McGraw, Katharine Ross, Cybill Shepherd, Tuesday Weld, Natalie Wood. (Chiles won the other girl: Jordan Baker).
  8. Cybill Shepherd, Taxi Driver, 1975.
  9. Barbara Harris, Family Plot, 1975.    Barbara Harris, Family Plot, 1975. Goldie Hawn and – surprise, surprise! – even Beverly Sills, “America’s Queen of Opera,” were in Alfred Hitchcock’s frame for Blanche in, alas, his final film. He acyually selected Minnelli and Al Pacino… too pricey. Hitch then fell for Harris, a delightful actress he had tried to hire in the past. Hitch was prepping The Short Night when he died, at age 80, on April 29, 1980.
  10. Barbra Streisand, A Star Is Born, 1976.      Cher, Helen Reddy, Diana Ross were in the mix for Mrs Norman Maine – er, Mrs John  Norman Howard.    Then  again, which hot singer hadn’t been during  the 70s.

  11. Susan Sarandon, Pretty Baby, 1977.  The plot sickens… A prostitute allows her 12-year-old  daughter’s virginity to be auctioned off in a brothel in the red-light Storyville district of  New Orleans, circa 1917. Elegant French director Louis Malle saw 29possible pretty Violets – and another 19 actresses for her mother: Candice Bergen, Cher, Julie Christie, Glenn Close (passed), Faye Dunaway, Mia Farrow, Farrah Fawcett (passed), Jane Fonda (with Jodie Foster as her daughter), Goldie Hawn (preferred Foul Play), Anjelica Huston, Diane Keaton, Sylvia Kristel (Emmanuelle, herself),   Liza Minnelli, Cybil Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver. Plus Joan Collins, who suggested Jasmine Maimone,  her screen daughter in that year’s Magnum Cop,  would  make a fine Violet. Louis  Malle and Sarandon became lovers and also made Atlantic City, 1980… the year he married Bergen until his 1995 death.
  12. Margot Kidder, Superman, 1978.
  13.  Isabelle  Huppert,  Camille, 1980.      After Cabaret, Italian stage-screen director Franco Zeffirelli met Liza in New York in 1973  about a musical Much Ado About Nothing  (good subtitle for her career). And he kept falling back to his Camille notion. Not the Garboesque romantic heroine, more of a turn of the century woman of the night,  less courtesan than (surprise, surprise) cabaret singer. Liza loved it, made wardrobe and other  tests until they both refused producer Alberto Grimaldi’s  request for “a red-light movie.”  The project passed to Gaumont, director Mauro Bolognini and Isabelle.
  14. Elizabeth McGovern, Once Upon a Time in America, 1982.   Italian maestro Sergio Leoneclaimed he interviewed “over 3,000 actors,” taping 500 auditions for the 110 speaking roles in his New York gangster epic.  He certainly saw 33 girls for nymphet Deborah Gelly: Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Jennifer Beals, Linda Blair, Glenn Close, Jamie Lee Curtis, Geena Davis, Farrah Fawcett, Carrie Fisher, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Goldie Hawn, Mariel Hemingway, Diane Lane, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Heather Locklear, Kristy McNIchol, Liza Minnelli, Tatum O’Neal, Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Meryl Streep, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver, Debra Winger. Plus Brooke Shields as the younger version. Deborah was 15 in the first script; McGovern was 20.

  15. Jessica Lange, Frances, 1982.    
    Howard Hawks  said  she always seemed to be shining. “More talent than anyone I ever worked with.” She and Vivien Leigh were beaten by Ingrid Bergman to For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1943 She’s the subject of various books, plays (viz Sally Clarke’s Saint Frances of Hollywood),  pop and rock songs  – French-Canadian singer Mylène Farmer even took her name. All actresses loved her talent and guts (when wrongfully committed to asylums by her parents) and  wanted to ply…  Frances Farmer.  From the sublime to the ridiculous: Meryl Streep to Susan Dey  of TV’s Partridge Family. Kim Basinger tested with Sam Shepard (Lange’s husband). Undaunted Susan Blakely made her own 1983  TVersion (from Farmer’s book, Will There Really Be A Morning?). Plus Anne Archer, Blythe Danner, Patty Duke, Mia Farrow, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Glenda Jackson, Diane Keaton, Liza Minnelli, Katharine Ross, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Tuesday Weld, Natalie Wood. Plus Constance Money, who met  with  producer  Mel Brooks and debuting director Graeme Clifford. They liked her. Not her CV. Seven porno films in three years.  Even if they used her real name (Sue Jensen), someone would have blown an expensive whistle about her hardcore career.

  16. Linda Hamilton, The Terminator, 1983.  In all, 55 actresses were considered, seen or tested for Sarah Connor (aged 18; Linda was 27) opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. James Cameron auteured Sarah for Bridget Fonda.  She passed. So did Tatum O’Neal. He decided to go older…  and Glenn Close won – her schedule didn’t agree. OK, Kate Capshaw! No, she was tied to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – and Kathleen Turner was Romancing The Stone. Debra Winger won her audition, said yes… then no.   The other 48 ladies were The ’80s Group: Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Christy Brinkley, Colleen Camp, Jamie Lee Curtis, Geena Davis, Judy Davis, Mia Farrow, Carrie Fisher, Jodie Foster, Teri Garr, Jennifer Grey, Melanie Griffith, Darryl Hannah, Barbara Hershey, Anjelica Huston, Amy Irving, Diane Keaton, Margot Kidder, Diane Lane, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Heather Locklear, Lori Loughlin, Kelly McGillis, Kristy McNichol, Michelle Pfeiffer, Deborah Raffin, , Meg Ryan, Susan Sarandon, Ally Sheedy, Cybill Shepherd, Brooke Shields, Sissy Spacek, Sharon Stone, Lea Thompson, Sigourney Weaver… one aerobics queen, Bess Motta (she became Sarah’s room-mate, Ginger Ventura), two singers (Madonna, Liza Minnelli), two Brits (Miranda Richardson, Jane Seymour), five essentially funny girls, Goldie Hawn, Rhea Perlman (Mrs Danny De Vito), Gilda Radner, Mary Tyler Moore…plus the new MTM, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, from Saturday Night Live. Most were in contention again a few years later for Fatal Attraction (won by Close) and The Accused (going to Foster and McGillis). Ten years later (after T2), Linda gave birth to Cameron’s daughter and Josephine’s parents wed in 1997… for two years.

  17. Elizabeth McGovern, Once Upon a Time in America, 1984.     Rumours insist that Liza tested for Sergio Leone – as did Claudia Cardinale and Geena Davis (!).
  18. Anjelica Huston, Prizzi’s Honor, 1984.      “So let’s do it. Right here. On the Oriental. With all the lights on.” Maerose Prizzi knew what she wanted, where and when from her Family’s hit man, Jack Nicholson – the unlikeliest Mafioso since the Corleones’ James Caan. Before realising his daughter was Oscar-winning perfection, director John Huston looked at some 19 potential Maeroses. From the sublime Minnelli, Rosanna Arquette, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Demi Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer (been there, done that and got the Married To The Mob and Scarface t-shirts), Debra Winger… to the ridiculous: Geena Davis, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Emma Thompson, Sela Ward, Debra Winger… and the damn stupid: Linda Blair, Carrie Fisher, Kelly Lebrock, Heather Locklear, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ally Sheedy.
  19. Marushka Detmers,  Hanna’s War, 1988.     Liza was typically chutzpah from Cannon Films’s Goland and Globus  for the true story of the Jewish WWII heroine Hanna  Senesh…  They were also known as the Nosh Brothers   – of whom it was said:  “If Sam Goldwyn were alive, he’d turn over in his grave.”
  20. Lorraine Bracco, Sing, 1988.       Liza passed on the teacher involved with a  high school performing competition.

  21. Anjelica Huston, The Witches, 1988.  Olivja  Hussey topped  author Ronald Dahl’s wish list for Miss Ernst, aka The Grand High Witch. However, Anjelica was on Nic Roeg’s list. And he was the director!  He took his time combing through the 13 other candidates:  From Linda Blair (little Regan grew up to be a witch?), Genevieve Bujold, Cher, Frances Conroy, Faye Dunaway, Jodie Foster, Liza Minnelli, Susan Sarandpn, Sigourney Weaver to true Brits Fiona Fullerton, Helen Mirren, Vanessa Redgrave… and the sole Black star considered, Eartha Kitt.  Together with Bancroft, they all escaped eight  hours of make-up each  day!  Appalled by the vulgar bad taste and :actual terror” in the film, Dahl threatened to take his name off it.  Jim Henson talked him out  of it for the Muppeteer’s final production.  
  22. Geena Davis, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  23. Bette Midler, Seinfeld, TV, 1995.     “We weren’t yet the mega-hit,” recalled scenarist Carol Leifer on the show’s 25th birthday in 2014. “We still had to fight for some things… like casting the part for the Broadway star in The Understudy. I co-wrote that episode [the sixth season finale] with Marjorie Gross, who has since, sadly, passed way. Bette did it, basically, as something of a favor to Marjorie… In retrospect now, what actress wouldn’t want to be immortalised in a Seinfeld episode? I remember also speaking with Liza Minnelli to do it -she passed. She didn’t think the part was big enough.”  Hah! 
  24. Madonna,  Evita,  1996.     Rebuffed by Barbra Streisand, Ken Russell was so impressed with Liza’s 1982 test that he refused to direct the film without her.
  25. Beatrice Dalle, La Belle Histoire, France, 1991.     Two simultaneous plots. Neither one worked. Obviously not. Both were  signed: Claude Lelouch.

  26. Renee Zellweger, Chicago, 2001.
  27. Queren Latifah, Chicago, 2001. 



 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  26