This tedious, unauthorized biography of Liza Minnelli offers about the same excitement as an entry in a biographical encyclopedia, only it's a lot longer. In a pedestrian, fawning manner, Leigh, author of a controversial biography of Arnold Schwarzenegger ( Arnold , Congdon & Weed, dist. by Contemporary Bks., 1990), drags the reader through the shows, movies, lovers, husbands, triumphs, and neuroses of Minnelli. There is a bibliography of related materials and a curious list of acknowledgments (which include Eva and Zsa Zsa Gabor), but no quote is documented. When Liza decides to tell her own story, interest will certainly be big. In the meantime, this book can be skipped.-- Diane H. Albosta, Episcopal H.S. Lib., Alexandria, Va.
With the preponderance of tabloid reporting, it's difficult for star biographers to come up with much that readers haven't already learned at the checkout counter. Leigh's life of Liza Minnelli offers a few racy items (including one detailing a very public sexual encounter between Liza and Mikhail Baryshnikov), but the book is mostly standard fare, a cut-and-paste job significantly bolstered by interviews. It's best at the beginning, when Leigh takes the time to explore Minnelli's relationships with her mother, Judy Garland, and her father, Vincente Minnelli. By the conclusion, though, Leigh seems to be in a hurry to finish, giving the last several years of Liza's life only 10 pages. Leigh also has the annoying habit of designating almost every male in Minnelli's life as either a father figure or a brother figure. Some of Liza's many men must have been just boyfriends. On the plus side, Leigh does not sensationalize Minnelli's years of drinks, drugs, and discos, choosing instead to temper her subject's excesses with quotes from friends and acquaintances who describe her as loving and kind (though incredibly needy). A survivor story that should elicit interest among fans.