The residences of former icons are often preserved, but sometimes, too many heartbreaking memories exist within the house’s walls. The ghosts that haunt the childhood home of Liza Minnelli aren’t spirits per se, but the shadows of years of conflict. Now stripped of their glory, the walls don’t need to talk. You can see the stories yourself by simply going inside…
In order to comprehend the grandeur that is Liza Minnelli’s childhood home, you have to understand her father, Vincente Minnelli. The legendary director rose to fame in the 1940s, and before long, he was known as one of Hollywood’s most gifted filmmakers.
Vincente Minnelli and Judy Garland
He established himself as an auteur who could assemble sprawling sets and top-notch actors into unforgettable works of art. His status only rose when he married Judy Garland, and Hollywood’s most iconic — and tragic — couple was born.
Together, everything they touched seemed to turn to gold, including their daughter Liza. From a young age, it was clear that she had inherited both of her parents’ creative talents…but even so, gold can still become tarnished.
Judy Garland, Vincente Minnelli, and Liza Minnelli
Judy Garland’s substance abuse is one of the most famous spirals in history, and by 1950, she had twice attempted to take her own life. By 1951, they were divorced — and Vincente had plans for a brand new life in a brand new home…
Vincente Minnelli and Liza Minnelli
Vincente made his most fateful decision yet when he moved into his Beverly Hills home on Crescent Drive. It’s hard to believe a home without Judy Garland could still make draw so much attention, but it did. The size alone left visitors awe-struck.
It spanned 5,900 square feet and was practically a different planet the second you walked through the doors. The mansion had 19 rooms, including 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms. It was unlike anything the Minnelli’s had experienced before…but not because of the size.
Minnelli Mansion/Google Earth
Unlike his first home, the Minnelli mansion echoed with activity. Vincente and his colleagues laughing into the night, actors seeking guidance, and Liza running to and fro from one end of the home to the other. Even so, Vincente had a secret intention for the mansion.
To make it Liza’s dream home. He commissioned stage and film artist Tony Duquette to design a huge playhouse for Liza on the estate’s 42,500 square feet of land. “I remember always asking to go to Liza’s to play dress-up,” actress Candice Bergen recalled.
Vincente Minnelli, Judy Garland, and Liza Minnelli
But as anyone in Hollywood could tell you, fame is fleeting. Liza’s childhood days spent playing dress-up could only last so long, and so could Vincente’s success as a director. By 1970, Liza’s star was rising, but Vincente was in deep debt.
Vincente Minnelli and Liza Minnelli
The house had been built on the basis of excess, but by the late ’70s, Vincente’s friends referred to it as “threadbare.” Walking through each room and across the empty expanse of land, the estate looked like a ghost town…and in more ways than one.
Vincente died in the house at 83 years old. Shortly after his death, his will revealed Liza as the mansion’s new owner. But a stipulation came with the estate, one Liza would have to adhere to whether she liked it or not.
Vincente made it clear that, though Liza was technically in charge of the $1.1 million estate, Vincente’s widow, Lee, could live in the mansion for as long as she wished. Decades later, the home still stands — but it’s almost unrecognizable.
It houses an eerie silence, the kind it was never meant to contain. Lee’s death in 2009 ended a decade-long legal battle with Liza over selling the house. Liza could finally do what she wanted with her childhood home.
But just because the house is now out of Liza’s hands doesn’t mean her childhood home has forgotten her. See, the new owners never moved into the home, so walking through those doors is like walking back in time.
A neighbor “noticed some torn drapes through an upstairs window” that hadn’t been ripped in the past, proof that the house definitely wasn’t as empty as originally believed. When the neighbor investigated the home for themselves, what they saw was heartbreaking.
The home, which had once been the envy of Hollywood, was now littered with trash. Paint peeled off the walls, water damage stained the ceiling, and the carpets were ripped and tattered. Staleness clung to the air from room to room.
The property itself hasn’t been touched in years, leaving the gates ensnared by vines and weeds. Crumbling columns and debris littered the sprawling lawns, and the swimming pool was decorated with graffiti…proof of how the home fell into such a depressing state.
Squatters made the home almost unrecognizable. Where Vincente Minnelli’s lavish bed once sat was now a yellowed mattress. One of his floral chairs, once the height of fashion, lay in ruin. In some forgotten rooms, squatters found old records from when the home was filled with music.
Traces of the home’s former glory still shone in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors and bright pink bathtub, but its glamor has been overshadowed by years of neglect. Even the home’s new owners don’t seem to care about the former palace…
Though minor landscaping was done on the estate, it remained empty for almost a decade. Where Vincent and Liza Minnelli once lived were squatters and YouTubers hoping to catch a glimpse of its old glory.
Its vestiges of old-school glamor made it a go-to destination for explorers, especially since it provided a rare glimpse into how the Minnelli’s once lived. But now the home was cold and empty, a mere shell of what it once was.
Curbed LA/Architectural Digest
The house that time forgot: one can’t help but imagine Liza running through the halls and Vincente working on his iconic movie musicals. It was once a backdrop for some of the most glamorous moments in Hollywood history…and it’s now left in the dust.
We can’t help but wonder what the walls in Vincente and Judy’s first home would tell us about their family’s early years. After all, when it comes to Hollywood’s true icons, Liza Minnelli didn’t just get talent from her father.
If the argument of nature vs nurture ever comes up in regards to talent, it’s hard not to think on Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli. Their theatrical personas, cabaret voices, and unique looks have long bound them together.
© CBS Photo Archive
Recently, however, fans have caught on to a much more profound similarity between this mother-daughter duo that is leaving the world in awe all over again. Unfortunately, it’s not all heel-clicks and glitter.
At just four years old, when she was still known as Frances Ethel Gumm, Garland’s family was forced to leave their home in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, after her father was accused of making advances towards some male ushers.
The family then moved to a small town outside of Los Angeles, California. This proved to be a fateful move, as Judy’s mother began managing her and her two older sisters in their Vaudeville act known as The Gumm Sisters.
But her father’s homosexuality didn’t escape Garland’s notice, despite her young age. As they say, it’s quite common for women to seek traits in romantic male partners that are similar to that of their fathers. Perhaps that’s what ultimately attracted Garland to Vincente Minnelli.
Judy Garland married the famous film director in 1945 when she was only 23 years old. And just one year after the church bells tolled, the couple brought their first child into the world, a little girl they named Liza Minnelli.
Of course, today it is widely understood that Vincente Minnelli was bi-sexual, but that wasn’t so clear to Judy Garland back then. It wasn’t until she caught him with another man that their relationship came to a crushingly abrupt end.
But that’s not the only similarity between mother and daughter. As The Gumm Sisters began to gain some attention, their mother pushed even harder for their success. Her new mission was to get her girls into the pictures.
It was undeniable that the Gumm sisters had talent, but what was even more obvious was that Judy was the true star. MGM studios was certainly sensible to this when they called her in for an audition shortly after her 13th birthday.
Young Garland performed Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart and an old Yiddish Vaudeville number, Eli, Eli. She apparently knocked it out of the park because MGM signed her to a contract right on the spot.
That fateful moment was the real taking off point of Garland’s career. Her success turned her into the financial pillar for her family, a stress that did not come without plenty of company.
As burdening as her financial responsibilities were at such a young age, Garland didn’t do much to stave that load off her own daughter’s back. In fact, Liza began her own career as a performer at just 3-years-old.
Like mother like daughter, Liza was just born a star. Garland was the terminal model and mythic for young Liza, so when things started to turn dire for her mother, she stood right up to support her.
Even their insecurities mirrored each other. It’s obviously trying enough to constantly be in the limelight and have your appearance critiqued and commented on. But for Judy, that was only the beginning of the nightmare.
From the moment she signed with MGM studios at age 13, she was given the nickname “little hunchback.” Producers were constantly telling her she needed to lose weight and even putting her on strict diets and giving her pills.
Even when producers wanted to cast her in The Wizard Of Oz, the director, Victor Fleming refused, saying she was too unattractive. He even went so far as to go behind the studio’s back and request Shirley Temple and other actresses.
When everyone turned him down, Fleming finally conceded to cast Garland as Dorothy. But he never let her forget that her looks were unlovely, forcing her to wear rubber caps over her teeth and even discs to reshape her nose.
Unfortunately, this became the standard wardrobe for Garland and in turn, the foundation of her perception of herself. The pill-pushing, prosthetics, and relentless criticism led Garland to become an enemy of her own appearance.
As Liza took on much of her mother’s features, it doesn’t leave much room to wonder why she also struggled with self-esteem. She constantly referred to herself as ugly, which led her to some serious self-medicating.
The results of their low self-esteem were brutal. Because of intense schedules and the studio pushing so many weight loss pills, Garland developed a critical prescription drug addiction early on.
From a series of failed marriages to tumultuous professional relationships and a flatlining career, Garland also developed an intimate dependence on alcohol. Unfortunately, in this regard, Liza also followed in her mother’s footsteps.
Liza’s downward spiral with drugs and alcohol didn’t really start until the ’70s, following her mother’s death. In a journal entry, Andy Warhol recalls seeing Minnelli arrive at a party in ’78, demanding guests, “give me every drug you’ve got.”
When Garland overdosed in her London flat in ’69, Liza turned to heavy doses of Valium to try to cope. The sedatives, however, were only the beginning. Again, like Garland, Liza’s string of failed marriages led her to the bottle.
Both women also had very rocky love lives. Incredibly, Vincente Minnelli wasn’t the singular time Garland was married to a gay man. Her fourth husband, actor Mark Herron also came out.
The feeling of betrayal from both Minnelli and Herron, along with the physical and verbal abuse she experienced from her other husbands, set a jarring example of what romantic love could be. An example, her daughter didn’t stray from.
Liza’s first marriage with Australian musician Peter Allen ended after seven years as he began to embrace his own homosexuality. From there she went on to have three more stormy and short-lived marriages.
Homosexuality didn’t just stop with their marriages, either. It might seem that Garland and Minnelli are hailed as icons in the gay community because of their three marriages (between the two of them) to gay men. However, the LGBTQ community says otherwise.
The real reason they are recognized as heroes is due to the struggles and prejudices they endured in their careers, which many gay men say they can relate to. Of course, they’re also both fabulously extra divas.
There is another tie that binds them perhaps more closely than the rest: despite their turbulent paths, this mother-daughter duo will go down in history among the greats. Their legacy has inspired generations to dream of more, somewhere even beyond the rainbow.
Two such dreamy fans have opened up about their own Hollywood experiences. This famous father and son have stolen the spotlight of American cinema for decades, but just recently they revealed how they truly felt about each other.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame has over 2,000 brass stars embedded into the 15-block span of sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard. And you better believe Academy Award-winner Michael Douglas has one of those five-pointed symbols of prestige.
On the day Hollywood made the decision to welcome Michael into the elite realm of star holders, family, friends, and hordes of fans attended the event to show their support and admiration for the actor. But one guest stood out above the rest.
Michael’s father, the legendary Hollywood icon Kirk Douglas, was right there alongside his son to shower him with praise and to wear his fatherly pride like a badge of honor.
Kirk, like his son, was an Academy Award winner. He starred in dozens of classic films like Spartacus, Paths of Glory, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but as impressive as that resume is, it’s nowhere near as fascinating as his epic rags-to-riches journey — a story Michael relayed to the crowd on Hollywood Boulevard.
Kirk’s story, as Michael told it, started out in a poverty-stricken area of America. After migrating from Russia with his Jewish immigrant family, Kirk faced discrimination on top of his family’s financial struggles.
Although a horse trader in Russia, Kirk’s father was forced to work as a “ragman.” He perused the streets with a wagon, purchasing rags, metal scraps, and other bits of junk, and then turned them for a minuscule profit.
The impoverished upbringing Kirk experienced fueled an intense desire to succeed. Dreaming of becoming an actor, he enrolled in the theater program at New York’s St. Lawrence University, where he began his journey to the top.
After school, Kirk slowly but surely started being cast in smaller film roles. Finally, in 1949, he earned an Oscar nomination for the 1949 film Champion. He was officially part of the Hollywood elite.
After, he married a woman named Diana Dill, with whom he had a son — Michael. The marriage didn’t last, but the bond between father and son did. Much like his father, Michael caught the acting bug growing up and entered the cutthroat world of Hollywood.
And, also like his Oscar-winning father, Michael had a knack for acting and quickly found himself garnering praise from critics in leading roles. The apple clearly didn’t fall far from the tree.
Just take a look at these two headshots of the Douglas men side by side; those smiles are nearly identical. As Michael gained more industry experience over the years, he actually had the chance to put his father in a film — but he turned him down!
See, Michael was a producer on the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and even though Kirk wanted to play the lead role of McMurphy, Michael opted to cast Jack Nicholson instead. His decision ended up being the right one.
One aspect of Michael’s life that unfortunately mirrored Kirk’s was a marital failure. Sadly, Michael ended up divorcing his first wife, Diandra Luker, but that didn’t stop him from finding love again and, this time, maintaining a healthy and happy relationship with Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.
At the Walk of Fame ceremony, Michael had nothing but incredible things to say about not just Kirk, but everyone in his family. His son, Cameron, was by Michael’s side (with a son of his own)!
Kirk, Michael, and Cameron — three generations of the Douglas clan — even starred in a 2003 movie called It Runs in the Family. While it didn’t receive incredible praise, it was still a really cool opportunity for the Douglas family to share a movie set together.
And so, at the Walk of Fame, Michael took a minute to celebrate the Douglas men. His star, while not directly next to his father’s, was put close enough so the men knew their Hollywood legacies were something they could always hold dear to their hearts.
Michael’s speech about his father touched the hearts of everyone in the crowd. He told Kirk’s story and included some humor: “In a month, Kirk turns 102 years old,” he said. “So those of you who took the under on him making 80, you lost a long time ago, all right?”
But most importantly, he finished with these heartfelt words: “Thank you for your advice, inspiration,” he said. “I’ll say it simply and with all my heart: I’m so proud to be your son.”
What an incredible tribute to a man who started with nothing and attained a Hollywood icon status. Even though Kirk stopped acting, he never stopped being a great father and role model.