Thursday, July 18, 2024

Liza Minnelli Is A Living, Ebullient New York Landmark


Liza Minnelli is now a Living Landmark thanks to the Landmarks Conservancy. At last night’s ritzy black tie dinner in the Plaza Hotel ballroom, Liza was an enthusiastic honoree, taking the stage with gusto if not exactly balance. She may have been wetter than a granite landmark during the hurricane or simply “overtired” from listening to many excellent speeches and the wittiest emceeing of the year by our pal and favorite gal, Liz Smith.

I don’t know how Liz does it. She took over the Living Landmarks in 1996, and continues to guide this incredibly important event with such humor and grace, and a twinkle in her eye. She’s perched on a stool on stage with Peter Duchin and his famed band behind her, slyly talking these well heeled types into more and more donations that protect New York’s iconic buildings from being ripped down. (The inspiration for landmarks–the demolition in the early 60s of the real Penn Station, and in the late 70s of the Bonwit Teller building that become Trump Tower.)

Besides Liza, the other landmarks included both Jimmy Nederlander Sr. and Jr., who keep Broadway going and are the first ever father and son to receive the honor; financiers and philanthropists Peter Malkin and E. John Rosenwald, Jr., famed chef Daniel Boulud, and the great author (“The Power Broker”) Robert Caro. Each gave fun, personal thank yous. Boulud even popped open a bottle of vintage Champagne on stage to toast the evening.

What a gang Liz has rounded up for this affair, just as she does with Literacy Partners. It’s every banker and billionaire who loves New York and wants to prevent it from being further ripped down or detonated into a glass box. The audiene ranged from Pete Petersen of Blackstone Partners to legendary archeologist and connoisseur Iris Love, who kept me amused through dinner. (Did you know Iris has Brooke Astor’s dachshunds at her country house? Brooke’s famously awful son and daughter in law wanted to put them to sleep!)

And Liza? She’s still here. She has a lot of energy, and she’s a dear. But maybe put her on at the beginning of the night next time. She did say, “I came to New York when I was 14, and I wanted to be on Broadway immediately.” It took her a while she said, “But I did it all myself.”  And then broke into song. She still puts on quite a show, kids. Damon Runyon, whose name was invoked at least once last night, woulda loved her.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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