By Marc Alexander

Photo Credit: Eric Charbonneau/BEImages

The mother-daughter relationship is one of the most unique in the world. A woman’s mother is typically her first and most powerful influence. In times past, this stability of this relationship was essential in maintaining society’s structure and order. A daughter was expected to literally shadow her mother to learn the “womanly duties” that would be expected of her as an adult, namely: cooking, cleaning and how to take care of babies.

When the mother-daughter relationship is healthy, it can be practically twin-like in its eerie magic and extra sensory perception. Many mothers and daughters share a secret, unspoken language through which complex messages can be transmitted and received by simple eye contact. Sometimes, they finish each other sentences; and oftentimes, you see them smile and laugh at inside jokes that the rest of the world misses.

But when this relationship is unhealthy, it can be more destructive than a late-summer hurricane. When negative emotions like jealousy creep in, or when emotional baggage is passed down from mother to daughter, the adverse effects may hamper both women for the rest of their lives.  Some mothers give too much of themselves early on, and when they pull away to let their daughter stand on her own, the daughter feels abandoned and blames the mother.

Because the mother-daughter relationship is so incredibly complex, it’s amazing to see mothers and daughters who’ve managed to pull off the hat trick with the whole world watching.  There are many examples of mothers and daughters who have become equally famous (and infamous), but what mother-daughter combo has packed the greatest punch?

Who is the Greatest Of All Time mother-daughter duo?

In history there are lots of notable examples from just about every field imaginable. Madam Marie Curie, the mother of radium and radioactivity, and her daughter Irene Joliot-Curie were both world-renowned scientists who, between them .shared three Nobel Prizes. Lucy Stone and her daughter Alice Stone Black were both trailblazers in the women’s rights movements in both the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century.

Photo Credit: queentohistory.com

Even going further back, Ann Boleyn, the ill-fated and eventually headless wife of King Henry the VIII of England, birthed a daughter, Elizabeth, who would go on to become one of the most powerful and storied monarchs in the nation’s history.

And in modern times, the entertainment industry has produced a long list of mothers who have passed their star-quality genes on to their female progeny.

Academy Award-winner Goldie Hawn and her daughter Kate Hudson are probably the mother- daughter duo who has enjoyed the greatest box office success.  Mama Goldie’s credits include movies like Private Benjamin, The Banger Sisters, Wildcats, and Almost Famous; while Kate has been a virtual reigning queen of romantic comedy with hits like You, Me and Dupree and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.  And Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher represent a famous mother-daughter duo that has been in the business nearly seventy years combined.

Other notable showbiz moms and daughters include Peggy Lipton and Rashida Jones, Jayne Mansfield and Mariska Hargitay, and Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis– all of whom have stomped out two sets of footprints into the business of show. But when you think of mother-daughter duos, there is one pair that is most iconic over all the others. There is only one pair that consists of two legendary divas who are known the world over – and that duo is Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli.

The former Frances Ethel Gumm, Judy Garland was a presence in show business for forty-five of her forty-seven years. Best known for her role as “Dorothy” in 1939’s Wizard of Oz, Ms. Garland was a contract player for MGM. Early on, she considered herself an “ugly duckling,” and, throughout her life, she turned to drugs and alcohol to help her cope with her feelings of inadequacy. Judy ultimately overdosed on drugs at the tender age of 47.

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Liza’s career closely mirrored her mother’s in that she was successful on both the stage and on the screen. She is probably best remembered for her Academy Award-winning role in the 1972 musical film Cabaret. Interestingly, Liza’s life, like her mother’s, was also famously hampered with an addiction to drugs and painkillers. Liza, however, successfully completed a stint in rehab in 2012 and has been going strong, we hope, ever since.

Between the two of them, Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli have won nearly 2 dozen of show business’ top awards –  including  5 Tony Awards (2 Special Awards), 7 Grammys (2 Legend Awards), an Emmy,4 Golden Globes and an Oscar each (Judy Garland was awarded the Academy Juvenile Award for her performance in Wizard of Oz.)

And if the long list of awards isn’t enough, just ask the hundreds of drag queens who dress up like Judy and Liza, or the thousands of adoring fans who know every word to every show tune they’ve ever belted out. Hands down, Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli are the greatest mother-daughter duo of all time.

Agree? Disagree?  Make your argument. I double-dare you.


Marc Alexander is a Los Angeles-based writer, photographer and purveyor of urban culture.

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