Showbiz diva Liza Minnelli returns to Paris
US showbiz diva Liza Minnelli returns this weekend to Paris, the scene of one of her early successes and the home of her hero and mentor Charles Aznavour.
The 63-year-old singer and actress takes to the stage Saturday in the French capital, a city which also holds fond memories for the star of her film director father.
"My first real success was in Paris, in the Olympia (music hall)," said Minnelli, whose career took off in the late 1960s.
"Charles introduced me on stage, just like he does every time I've been here and it seemed to work," she told AFP.
This friendship with singing legend Aznavour, often dubbed the "French Sinatra", forged when Minnelli approached the artist after seeing him in concert. It has proved decisive in forming her own artistic persona, she believes.
Describing herself as "an actor who sings", Minnelli said it was Aznavour who taught her to fuse the art forms.
"First time I ever really saw it happen was with Charles Aznavour and I thought 'It's really interesting, I want to do that'.
"He became one of my heroes," added the star, whose Saturday show at Paris' Palais des Congres is the last date of a small European tour.
Minnelli was the daughter of the late film star Judy Garland and director Vincente Minnelli, and was used to rubbing shoulders with big names of the silver screen in Hollywood.
But she sought influence outside her upbringing and decided the theatres of Broadway were for her.
These early dreams were marred by a lack of confidence - and it was only when she visited the music halls of Paris that this changed.
"I was not sure that I could be so confident," said Minnelli, talking of her initial feelings towards theatre performances she saw on Broadway.
"Then I saw Aznavour, (Belgian singer) Jacques Brel and these fantastic French people who were so in the moment of each song and I thought 'That's the right way to do it'.
"I went to Charles and told him: 'Can I learn from you, will you be my mentor?'
"And he was and still is."
The pair remain close, with Minnelli travelling to Paris earlier this year to record a song for charity with Aznavour, now 85.
Minnelli's movie director father was also a fan of France, a love he passed on to his daughter.
He made a film in France - the 1951 movie "An American in Paris" - and even received an award from the French government.
"It's wonderful, always so exciting for me," Minnelli said of returning to the City of Lights.
"It reminds me of my father.
"He made An American in Paris... he won a Legion d'Honneur for his loving view of France."
Her father died in 1986.
For the finale of her European tour, Minnelli says fans can expect an energetic music hall extravaganza, packed with fascinating characters.
The entertainer shot to fame in 1972 in the film musical "Cabaret". Her performance as the sultry singer Sally Bowles caught up in dangerous times in Berlin as Adolf Hitler rose to power won her the Oscar for best actress.
Persistent health problems, battles with substance abuse and a troubled personal life -- more than her performances -- have pushed her into the headlines in recent years.