Minnelli, Liza

views updated May 18 2018

Liza Minnelli

Singer, actress

The Legacy of A Voice

Competes With A Legend

Makes Nightclub and Film Debut

Wins Triple Crown

Overcomes Drug Addiction

Selected discography



For the children of the very famous, perhaps the most daunting task of their lives is to emerge from the larger-than-life shadow cast by their parents and become their own persons. For Liza Minnelli, this process has been doubly difficult because she chose to make a name for herself on the stage, thus following in the footsteps of a mother who was one of the most famous performers of the twentieth century. That Minnelli succeeded is a testament both to her artistic gifts and her independent She remains one of the most versatile, and energetic performers on the American music scene.

Minnellis life began in the glow of the spotlight and has never really left it. She was born on March 12, 1946 in Hollywood, California to singer/actress Judy Garland and the second of her five husbands, film director, Vincente Minnelli. Liza grew up in the shadow of the studios, visiting her parents on sound stages, absorbing the details of the film-making process. She was particularly interested in dancers such as Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, whom she watched rehearse for hours, and at an early age she was given dance lessons by MGM choreographer Nico Charisse. By time she was three, Liza had appeared in one of her mothers films, In the Good Old Summertime, and at age eight she danced on stage in New York as a backup to her mother singing Swanee. Although Vincente Minnelli and Garland were divorced in 1951, both would play key roles in Minnellis artistic development, as she acknowledged in a New York Times interview, I got my drive from my mother and my dreams from my father.

The Legacy of A Voice

If Minnellis was a glamorous upbringing, it had a dark side as well. Judy Garlands later years were marked by addictions to tranquilizers and alcohol, illnesses, and episodes of emotional instability resulting in a series of failed marriages and strained relationships with everyone close to her. Almost from infancy, Minnelli was pressed into service as her mothers confidante, and by time she was a teenager she was managing her mothers household, paying bills, hiring staff, and supporting Garland through her mental crises. For all that, a strong emotional bond linked the mother and daughter, and to this day Minnelli remembers Garland with fondness for her supportiveness and her efforts to encourage Lizas artistic development.

Perhaps Garlands greatest legacy to Minnelli was her voice. Liza inherited many of Garlands mannerisms and vocal effects. As New York Times music writer Michiko Kakutani pointed out in a 1984 article, Although [Minnellis] voice possesses a harder edge, it

For the Record

Born Liza May Minnelli on March 12, 1946 in Hollywood, CA; daughter of Vincente Minnelli (film director) and Judy Garland (singer/actress); married Peter Allen 1967 (divorced 1972); married Jack Haley 1974 (divorced 1979); married Mark Gero (divorced 1992); educated in United States and Europe.

First performed in 1961; made Off-Broadway debut in 1963; made Broadway debut in 1965; has toured extensively in United States, Europe, Australia, and Japan; has appeared or recorded with Judy Garland, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Chita Rivera, Goldie Hawn, Vic Damone, Donna Summer, Joel Grey, Charles Aznavour, Marvin Hamlisch; film credits include Charlie Bubbles; The Sterile Cuckoo; Tell Me That You Love Me, JunieMoon; Cabaret; Thats Entertainment; Lucky Lady; A Matter of Time; New York, New York; Arthur; Rent-A-Cop; Arthur 2 On the Rocks; Stepping Out.

Awards: Tony Award, 1965; David di Donatello (Italy), 1970; Academy Award, 1972; Golden Globe Award, 1972; British Academy Award, 1972; Entertainer of the Year, American Guild of Variety Artists, 1972; David di Donatello, 1972; Emmy Award, 1972; Tony Award, 1973; Tony Award, 1977; Golden Globe, 1985.

Addresses: Home New York, NY. Management Lee Salter Co., Los Angeles, CA.

carries echoes of the throbbing emotion that Judy Garland imparted to all her songs; her stage presence, toohistrionic, nervous, at once vulnerable and brassycan also conjure up images of her mother. In the early years of her career Minnelli would consciously distant herself from her mothers image, refusing to sing Garlands songs and taking movie roles that portrayed her as worldly and tough as opposed to the wide-eyed innocent Garland often played. But in time she would come to accept and be honored that her audience saw her mother in her.

Minnellis interest in performing came to the fore in 1960 when she saw the Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie. She recognized in the atmosphere of the stage a world in which she felt completely at home. Successful tours with her school drama club and in local theaters followed, and in 1962 she decided to take the plunge, dropping out of school and moving to New York to pursue a stage career. Although her parents refused to pull strings for the aspiring sixteen-year-old actress, good auditions and curiosity based on her name resulted in her being cast in an Off-Broadway revival of the musical Best Foot Forward. The show opened in April 1963, and Minnelli was praised by critics for her confident and accomplished stage presence. After the show ended, Minnelli recorded her first album and went on the road touring with musicals, slowly but surely moving up the ladder to success by dint of what, in a Washington Post article, she called slogging along every day step by step by step.

Competes With A Legend

The most prominent step in Minnellis developing career, however, was when she appeared on stage with Judy Garland at the London Palladium on November 8, 1964. Overwhelmed by the thought of having to sing alongside a living legend, who also happened to be her mother, Minnelli was at first terrified, but her talent quickly asserted itself and she proved more than equal to the occasion. So much so, in fact, that Garland became jealous and paid her the supreme compliment of trying to outperform her, as if she were any other competitor. It was an electrifying moment for Minnelli, confirming that she had arrived as a musical talent. She recalled in a New York Times interview, It was like Mama suddenly realized I was good. One minute she smiled at me, and the next minute she was like the lioness that owned the stage and suddenly found somebody invading her territory.

In 1965, Minnellis new status as a rising stage star was reaffirmed by her performance in the Broadway musical Flora the Red Menace, a lighthearted spoof of the American Communist movement of the 1930s. Although the show received mediocre reviews and closed after only a few weeks, Minnelli was critically applauded and received the Tony Award as best actress in a musical for her work in the title role. At nineteen, she was the youngest actress in Broadway history to be so honored.

More importantly, she established a connection with Floras song-writing team, Fred Ebb and John Kander, who would arrange much of her work from that point on. By characterizing Minnelli as an eccentric but resilient waif with a flashy exterior and inner vulnerability, Kander and Ebb were able to imbue her with a stage personality that, while drawing on her mothers image, was distinctly separate from it. This would be key to Minnelli shedding the critical distinction of being just like Judy Garland and emerging into her own as a performer.

Makes Nightclub and Film Debut

With the support of Ebb, Minnelli made her cabaret debut in Washington, D.C. in sold-out performances at the Shoreham Hotels Blue Room. As was the case with Flora, she received accolades from the critical establishment and went on to tour successfully in the United States and abroad. The nightclub milieu was one in which Minnelli felt very much at ease, bringing a relentless energy and stage presence to the smaller venues regarded by most other performers as merely a sidebar between stage shows. As she explained in a 1970 After Dark article, The way I do my club actit is theater I have too much energy to stand still and be cool. Her audiences invariably responded to her enthusiasm and to this day, her nightclub act is the foundation for her continuing appeal.

In 1968, Minnelli ventured into the world of film for the first time, taking the role of the American secretary to Albert Finney in the British comedy Charlie Bubbles. Favorable reviews resulted in her being cast in The Sterile Cuckoo. Her role of Pookie Adams, a slightly crazy, love-starved college student gave her an opportunity to display her considerable acting talent and would garner her a best actress Oscar nomination. It also served notice that she could do more than just sing and dance, and was in fact a multi-dimensional talent.

In 1969, Minnelli had just begun work on a third film, Otto Premingers Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, when she received word that Judy Garland had died from an accidental overdose of sleeping pills. Although she must have been devastated, she calmly took charge of the events surrounding her mothers funeral and the settling of her estate, much the same way she had run her mothers household as a child. Plunging back into work afterwards, Minnelli filmed her first television special, entitled Liza Minnelli, for NBC in 1970 and went on tour with her cabaret act. In 1971, she was selected to play the female lead in Bob Fosses Cabaret, a film version of writer Christopher Isherwoods short story collection, Berlin Stories.

Wins Triple Crown

The role of Sally Bowles, a down-on-her-luck cabaret singer struggling to survive in the amoral atmosphere of 1930s Nazi Germany was tailor-made for Minnelli. On the strength of an excellent score by Kander and Ebb, director Fosse was able to draw a powerful, well rounded performance from Minnelli, showcasing her singing abilities and highlighting the tough/vulnerable dichotomy that was her hallmark. On its 1972 release, Cabaret was hailed by the critics and audiences alike and Minnelli received the Golden Globe, the Academy Award, the British Academy Award and Entertainer of the Year from the American Guild of Variety Artists. As if to crown her laurels, a NBC television special of her singing act, Liza With a Z, earned Minnelli an Emmy Award, raising her into the select group of artists who had won a Tony, an Academy Award, and an Emmy, the Triple Crown of show business.

Having firmly established herself as a star in her own right, Minnelli continued the relentless schedule that had brought her to the pinnacle of recognition. For the next several years, she toured extensively, playing venues all over the United States. A one-woman show, Liza, was the basis for a world tour and garnered her a special Tony Award. In 1974, she was a narrator for Thats Entertainment, a highly successful film tribute to MGM musicals which prominently featured her mothers work. She also provided voice-overs for the character of Dorothy in Journey Back To Oz, an animated feature that allowed Minnelli to reprise Garlands most famousrole.

After such a meteoric rise, it seemed inevitable that Lizas career should hit some sour notes. Lucky Lady, an adventure film starring Minnelli, Burt Reynolds, and Gene Hackman, was released in 1975 to harsh reviews in spite of the assembled talent. Similarly, when A Matter of Time, a Cinderella-type story directed by her father, hit the screens in 1976, her performance was thoroughly panned as mawkish and unconvincing. Perhaps the greatest disappointment for Minnelli, however, was the reception accorded to New York, New York which appeared in 1977. She had jumped at the chance to work with Martin Scorcese on the film, a 1940s style musical with Robert de Niro that would afford her the opportunity to star in the same kind of role that had made her mother famous. Once again, however, the critics were less than charitable, charging that she had merely copied her mothers mannerisms, and the film was a box-office disaster.

As if to redeem herself, Minnelli returned to the Broadway stage in late 1977 with The Act, the story of a has been singer trying to reclaim her earlier success. The verve of her live performances, a domain which seemed to suit her more than the screen, pleased the theater-going public and critics alike, and resulted in her third Tony Award. Likewise, her concert appearances continued to attract overflow audiences, with a 1979 Carnegie Hall engagement setting a record for that venerable theater. In 1981, Minnelli returned to film with the hit movie Arthur, the story of the unlikely match between a waitress and a drunken millionaire. Capitalizing on that success, Minnelli launched an international tour of her stage show and in 1983 earned a Tony Award for her starring role in The Rink, a musical with the close-to-home subject of a daughter coming to terms with her estranged mother.

Overcomes Drug Addiction

In spite of her continued success, or perhaps because of it, Minnellis personal life began to go out of control. Part of a sophisticated, fast-living crowd in the seventies and early eighties, Minnelli, in a haunting parallel to her mother, developed addictions to alcohol and several different types of drugs, particularly Valium. Gradually she became more and more withdrawn and began to miss concert dates, until in 1984, she entered the Betty Ford Center for detoxification treatment. Several months intensive therapy cured her of her drug habit and Minnelli emerged from the Center feeling renewed. In 1985, she mounted a hit tour that was a comeback of sorts for her, as well as appearing in a NBC made-for-television movie A Time to Live that brought her a second Golden Globe award.

Since the mid-eighties, Minnellis career has leveled off. She has had little success on the silver screen, starring in Rent-A-Cop in 1987, Arthur 2- On the Rocks in 1988, and Stepping Out in 1991 with minimal critical or box-office impact. However she has found the medium of television much friendlier, appearing in a series of highly acclaimed specials including Liza in London, an HBO pay-per-view event in 1986, Minnelli on Minnelli: Liza Remembers Vincente, a 1987 PBS tribute to her father who had died the previous year, and Liza Minnelli: Sam Found Out, three one-act plays on ABC in 1988.

Minnellis greatest success, however, has come in her continually sold-out appearances in theaters and clubs, a forum in which she has the greatest latitude to showcase her high-energy performance style. In 1987, Minnelli appeared in a three-week engagement at Carnegie Hall, recording the concerts as a best-selling live album, her first in almost a decade. A worldwide tour in 1988 with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. was billed as The Ultimate Event and proved to be very lucrative as a pay-per-view special. Minnelli appeared for several weeks in 1991 at New Yorks Radio City Music Hall, selling out every performance and recording a PBS special that was nominated for six Emmy Awards.

Through the seventies, eighties, and on into the nineties, Minnelli has also kept up a high profile as a recording artist, releasing albums steadily. Although her recorded output has not achieved the kind of recognition her film, television, and stage work did, all of her albums have sold well, reflecting the extreme devotion of the following she has maintained over the years. A 1996 recording of smoky-sounding romantic standards entitled Gently is a distinct change from the show tune-oriented albums she has done in the past and has been generally well received by music critics.

Now in her fifties, Liza Minnelli can look back over a career that has seen many highs and some lows as well. From her teenage years on, she has walked a fine line, striving to establish herself as an artist in the face of inevitable comparisons to her legendary mother. That she has succeeded in making a name for herself is beyond doubt, and in many ways she has become a more well-rounded, if not as compelling, an entertainer as Garland. In the process she has, if anything, extended her mothers renown by giving fresh life to the musical domain Garland had her greatest triumphs, a fact that New York Times critic Stephen Holden underlined in extolling Liza Minnelli as an exuberant, brash entertainer who may be the last great practioner of the brassy and at times proudly vulgar American music-hall tradition.

Selected discography


Liza! Liza. Capitol, 1964.

It Amazes Me, Capitol, 1965.

Judy Garland & Liza Minnelli Live at the London Palladium, Capitol, 1965.

Flora, The Red Menace, RCA Victor, 1965.

There is a Time, Capitol, 1966.

Liza Minnelli, A&M, 1968.

Cabaret: Original Soundtrack, MCA, 1972.

Liza with a Z, Columbia, 1972.

Liza Minnelli: The Singer, Columbia, 1973.

Live at the Winter Garden, Columbia, 1974.

New York, New York, EMI, 1977.

Tropical Nights, Columbia, 1977.

The Act, DRG, 1978.

Best Foot Forward, Picc-a-dilly, 1980.

Liza Minnelli Live at Carnegie Hall, Caltel, 1981.

The Rink, Polydor, 1984.

I Believe In Music, CBS, 1986.

Liza Minnelli At Carnegie Hall, Telare, 1987.

Lovely! Lively! Liza. Capitol, 1987.

The Liza Minnelli Four Sider, A&M, 1988.

Results, Epic, 1989.

Love Pains, Epic, 1990.

Stepping Out, Milan America, 1991.

Liza Minnelli: Live from Radio City Music Hall, Columbia, 1992.

Liza, Sony, 1993.

Gently, Angel, 1996.


Charlie Bubbles, 1968.

The Sterile Cuckoo, 1969.

Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, 1971.

Cabaret, 1972.

Lucky Lady, 1975.

A Matter of Time, 1976.

New York, New York, 1977.

Arthur, 1981.

Rent-A-Cop, 1987.

Arthur 2- On The Rocks, 1988.

Stepping Out, 1991.


Liza With A.Z, 1972.

Goldie and Liza Together, 1980.

Baryshnikov on Broadway, 1980.

A Time to Live, 1985.

Liza In London, 1986.

Liza Minnelli: Sam Found Out, 1988.

The Ultimate Event, 1989.

Liza: Live at Radio City Music Hall, 1992.

Parallel Lives, 1994.

The Wesf Side Waltz, 1995.


Best Foot Forward, 1963.

Flora, the Red Menace, 1965.

Liza at the Winter Garden, 1973.

Chicago, 1975.

The Act, 1977.

The Rink, 1984.



After Dark, April 1970.

Boston Globe, April 18, 1996.

Harpers Bazaar, August 1990.

New York Newsday, April 23, 1991.

New York Times, September 6, 1979; March 4, 1984; May 31, 1987; April 25, 1991.

USA Today, April 16, 1996.

Vanity Fair, June 1987.

Washington Post, July 9, 1988.

Additional material for this profile was furnished by Angel/EMI Records, 1996.

Daniel Hodges

Minnelli, Liza 1946–

views updated Jun 08 2018

MINNELLI, Liza 1946–


Full name, Liza May Minnelli; born March 12, 1946, in Los Angeles, CA; daughter of Vincente Minnelli (a film director and producer) and Judy Garland (a singer and actress); sister of Lorna Luft (a singer); married Peter Allen (a singer, songwriter, and actor), 1967 (divorced, 1972); married Jack Haley, Jr. (a producer), September 15, 1974 (divorced, 1979); married Mark Gero (a sculptor and producer), December 4, 1979 (divorced January 27, 1992); married David Gest (a producer), March 16, 2002 (divorced). Education: Attended Sorbonne, University of Paris, 1962–63; trained for the stage at HB Studios with Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof.

Addresses: Publicist—Warren Cowan & Associates, 8899 Beverly Blvd., Suite 919, Los Angeles, CA 90048.

Career: Singer, actress, and entertainer. Performer in concerts and nightclubs throughout the world; toured worldwide with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., 1988; appeared in television commercials for the Institute for Estee Lauder's "Metropolis" cologne for men, 1988, and the Achievement of Human Potential, 1999; face of M.A.C. cosmetics, appearing print ads, 2003.

Member: American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild.

Awards, Honors: Theatre World Award, 1963, for Best Foot Forward; Antoinette Perry Award, best actress in a musical, and Best Plays Citation, best new performer, 1965, both for Flora, the Red Menace; David Award, best foreign actress of the year, David di Donatello Awards, Silver Ombu Award, best actress, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress in a drama, Academy Award nomination, best actress, 1970, and Film Award, best promising newcomer, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1971, all for The Sterile Cuckoo; Academy Award, best actress, Film Award, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1972, Golden Globe Award, best actress in a musical or comedy, David Award, best foreign actress, David di Donatello Awards, 1973, all for Cabaret; named Entertainer of the Year, American Guild of Variety Artists, 1972; Golden Apple Award, female star of the year, Hollywood Women's Press Club, 1972; named Las Vegas Entertainment Female Star of the Year, 1972, 1974; named Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, Hasty Pudding Theatricals, 1973; Emmy Award (with Bob Fosse and Fred Ebb), outstanding single program—variety and popular music, 1973, for Liza with a "Z"; special Antoinette Perry Award, 1974; Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress in a musical or comedy, 1976, for Lucky Lady; Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress in a musical or comedy, 1978, for New York, New York; Antoinette Perry Award, best actress in a musical, 1978, for The Act; Emmy Award nomination (with others), outstanding variety or music program, 1980, for Goldie and Liza Together; Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress in a comedy or musical, 1982, for Arthur; Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best actress in a musical, 1984, for The Rink; Golden Globe Award, best performance by an actress in a miniseries or motion picture made for television, 1986, for A Time to Live; Emmy Award nomination, best individual performance in a variety or music program, 1993, for Liza Minnelli Live! From Radio City Music Hall; American Theater Hall of Fame, inductee, 2001; Special David Award, David di Donatello Awards, 2002; Valentino Award.


Stage Appearances:

Take Me Along, Cape Cod Melody Top Theatre, Hyannis, MA, 1962.

Title role, The Diary of Anne Frank, 1962.

Flower Drum Song, Cape Cod Melody Top Theatre, 1962.

(Off–Broadway debut) Ethel Hofflinger, Best Foot Forward, Stage 73, 1963.

Lili, Carnival!, Mineola Playhouse, Mineola, NY, 1964.

Judy and Liza at the London Palladium, Palladium, London, 1964.

Carnival, Paper Mill Playhouse, NJ, 1964.

Title role, Flora, the Red Menace, Alvin Theatre, New York City, 1965.

Liza with a Z (concert performance), Winter Garden Theatre, New York City, 1974.

Roxie Hart, Chicago, 46th Street Theatre, New York City, 1975.

A Star–Spangled Gala, Metropolitan Opera House, New York City, 1976.

Michelle Craig, The Act, Majestic Theatre, New York City, 1977.

Lillian Hellman, Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been, Promenade Theatre, New York City, 1979.

Liza Minnelli in Concert with Roger Minami and Obba Babatunde (concert performance), Carnegie Hall, New York City, 1979.

Angel, The Rink, Martin Beck Theatre, New York City, 1984.

Liza Minnelli (concert performance), Carnegie Hall, 1987.

An Evening with Alan Jay Lerner, State Theatre, New York City, 1989.

Liza Minnelli: Stepping Out at Radio City, Radio City Music Hall, New York City, 1992.

Liza Minnelli Live! From Radio City Music Hall, Radio City Music Hall, 1992.

Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Hall, 1992.

(Substituting for Julie Andrews) Victor/Victoria, Marquis Theatre, New York City, 1997.

My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies, Carnegie Hall, 1998.

Minelli on Minelli, Palace Theatre, New York City, 1999–2000.

Liza's Back, Royal Albert Hall, London, 2002, then Beacon Theater, New York City, 2003.

Also appeared as narrator, Acrobats of the Gods (ballet), Martha Graham Dance Company, Metropolitan Opera House, New York City, and Royal Opera House, London; The Owl and the Pussycat, Martha Graham Dance Company, Metropolitan Opera House, and Royal Opera House.

Major Tours:

Title role, The Diary of Anne Frank, U.S. and European cities, 1962.

Lili, Carnival!, U.S. cities, 1964.

Liza with a Z (concert performance), international cities, 1975.

Minelli on Minelli, U.S. cities, 2000.

Also toured in The Fantasticks, Time Out for Ginger, and The Pajama Game, all U.S. cities.

Film Appearances:

(Uncredited) Veronica and Andrew's baby, In the Good Old Summertime, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1949.

Eliza, Charlie Bubbles, Universal, 1968.

Mary Ann "Pookie" Adams, The Sterile Cuckoo (also known as Pookie), Paramount, 1969.

Junie Moon (title role), Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, Paramount, 1970.

Sally Bowles, Cabaret, Allied Artists, 1972.

Voice of Dorothy, Journey Back to Oz (animated), Filmation, 1974.

Narrator and hostess, That's Entertainment!, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1974.

(Uncredited) Herself, Just One More Time, 1974.

Claire, Lucky Lady, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1975.

Nina, A Matter of Time (also known as Nina), American International, 1976.

Herself, Silent Movie, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1976.

Francine Evans, New York, New York, United Artists, 1977.

Linda Marolla, Arthur, Warner Bros., 1981.

Herself, The King of Comedy, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1983.

Herself, The Muppets Take Manhattan, TriStar, 1984.

A Great Wind Cometh, 1984.

Narrator, That's Dancing!, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1984.

Voice, Pinocchio and the Emperor of Night, 1987.

Della Roberts, Rent–a–Cop, Kings Road Entertainment, 1988.

Linda Marolla Bach, Arthur II: On the Rocks, Warner Bros., 1988.

Herself, Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol, 1990.

Mavis Turner, Stepping Out, Paramount, 1991.

(In archive footage) Herself, Oscar's Greatest Moments, 1992.

Herself, A Century of Cinema, 1994.

Herself, Unzipped, Miramax, 1995.

Made film debut at age 14 months in The Pirate.

Television Appearances; Series:

Lucille Austero, a recurring role, Arrested Development, Fox, 2003–2004.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Mary–Lou Weisman, A Time to Live, NBC, 1985.

Stevie Merrill, Parallel Lives, Showtime, 1994.

Cara Varnum, "The West Side Waltz," CBS Playhouse 90s, CBS, 1995.

Herself, Jackie's Back! (also known as Jackie's Back: Portrait of a Diva), Lifetime, 1999.

Television Appearances; Specials:

The Gene Kelly Pontiac Special, CBS, 1959.

Herself, Gene Kelly: An American in Pasadena, 1959.

The Arthur Godfrey Show, NBC, 1963.

Herself, Judy and Liza at the Palladium, 1964.

Little Red, The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood, ABC, 1965.

The Perry Como Springtime Special, NBC, 1966.

The Alan King Show, NBC, 1968.

Comedy Is King, NBC, 1968.

Movin', CBS, 1970.

The Anthony Newley Show, ABC, 1971.

Liza with a Z (also known as Singer Presents Liza with aZ), NBC, 1972.

A Royal Gala Variety Performance, ABC, 1973.

Herself, The Men Who Made the Movies: Vincente Minnelli, 1973.

The Mac Davis Special, NBC, 1975.

Host, Jubilee (also known as The Bell Telephone Jubilee), NBC, 1976.

Herself, Life Goes to the Movies, 1976.

Herself, The American Film Institute Salute to Bette Davis, 1977.

Gene Kelly ... An American in Pasadena, CBS, 1978.

Baryshnikov on Broadway (also known as IBM Presents: Baryshnikov on Broadway), ABC, 1980.

Goldie and Liza Together, CBS, 1980.

Mac Davis Tenth Anniversary Special: I Still Believe in Music, NBC, 1980.

Herself, Night of 100 Stars, 1982.

Salute to Lady Liberty, CBS, 1984.

Those Fabulous Clowns, HBO, 1984.

Herself, The Whimsical World of Oz, 1985.

Liberty Weekend, ABC, 1986.

Standing Room Only: Liza in London, HBO, 1986.

Carnegie Hall: The Grand Reopening, CBS, 1987.

Herself, Happy Birthday Hollywood (also known as Happy 100th Birthday Hollywood), ABC, 1987.

"A Tribute to American Music: Rodgers and Hart," In Performance at the White House, PBS, 1987.

Host, Minnelli on Minnelli: Liza Remembers Vincente, PBS, 1987.

"Celebrating Gershwin" (also known as "The Jazz Age" and "'S Wonderful"), Great Performances, PBS, 1987.

Prostitute, Max, and Norman, Liza Minnelli in Sam Found Out: A Triple Play (also known as Liza Minnelli: Triple Play), ABC, 1988.

"Gregory Peck—His Own Man," Crazy about the Movies, Cinemax, 1988.

Frank, Liza, and Sammy: The Ultimate Event, Showtime, 1989.

The Songwriters Hall of Fame Twentieth Anniversary ... The Magic of Music, CBS, 1989.

Herself, The American Film Institute Salute to Gregory Peck, 1989.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 50 Years of Magic (also known as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic), CBS, 1990.

Sinatra 75: The Best Is Yet to Come (also known as Frank Sinatra: 75th Birthday Celebration), CBS, 1990.

Sammy Davis Jr.'s 60th Anniversary Celebration, ABC, 1990.

The Fred Astaire Songbook, PBS, 1991.

Carnegie Hall at 100: A Place of Dreams, PBS, 1991.

Herself, 60 Minutes: The Entertainers, 1991.

Liza Minnelli Live! From Radio City Music Hall, PBS, 1992.

Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli at the Palladium, PBS, 1992.

The Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, 1992.

A Concert for Life: A Tribute to Freddie Mercury (also known as Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert), Fox, 1992.

"Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall," Great Performances, PBS, 1993.

"Jerry Herman's Broadway at the Bowl," Great Performances, PBS, 1994.

Herself, In a New Light '94, ABC, 1994.

Concert of the Americas (also known as The Kennedy Center Presents), PBS, 1994.

Herself, Tony Bennett: Here's to the Ladies, a Concert of Hope, 1995.

Michael Feinstein: Sing a Song of Hollywood (documentary), AMC, 1995.

The Music of Kander and Ebb: Razzle Dazzle, PBS, 1997.

Broadway '97: Launching the Tonys, PBS, 1997.

Mia Farrow: A Life of Drama, Arts and Entertainment, 1997.

Herself, Mia Farrow: The E! True Hollywood Story, E! Entertainment Television, 1999.

Radio City Music Hall's Grand Re–Opening Gala, NBC, 1999.

Radio City Music Hall: The Story behind the Showplace (documentary), AMC, 1999.

Herself, My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies, PBS, 1999.

Herself, AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Stars, CBS, 1999.

Bob Fosse: Dancing on the Edge (documentary), Arts and Entertainment, 1999.

Herself, Freddie Mercury, the Untold Story, 2000.

Herself, Last Days of Judy Garland: The E! True Hollywood Story (documentary), E! Entertainment Television, 2001.

Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration, CBS, 2001.

Intimate Portrait: Judy Garland, Lifetime, 2001.

Herself, New York at the Movies, Arts and Entertainment, 2002.

Herself, Liza Minelli: The E! True Hollywood Story, E! Entertainment Television, 2002.

Liza & David's Wedding, VH1, 2002.

Herself, E! 101 Most Shocking Moments in Entertainment History, E! Entertainment Television, 2003.

Self, Jack Paar: Smart Television, 2003.

VH1 Big in '03, VH1, 2003.

Herself, American Masters: Judy Garland—By Myself, PBS, 2004.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

Presenter, The 22nd Annual Tony Awards, 1968.

Presenter, The 44th Annual Academy Awards, 1972.

Herself, The 45th Annual Academy Awards, 1973.

Presenter, The 46th Annual Academy Awards, 1974.

Herself, The 32nd Annual Tony Awards, 1978.

Presenter, The 52nd Annual Academy Awards, 1980.

Herself, The 55th Annual Academy Awards, 1983.

Herself, The 11th American Music Awards, 1984.

Co–presenter, The 56th Annual Academy Awards, 1984.

The 38th Annual Tony Awards, 1984.

The 60th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1988.

The 30th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS, 1988.

Grammy Living Legends, CBS, 1989.

Presenter, America's Dance Honors, ABC, 1990.

Presenter, The 64th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1992.

Presenter, The 46th Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1992.

The 65th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1993.

Host, The 47th Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1993.

Song performer, The 50th Annual Tony Awards, 1996.

39th Annual Grammy Awards, 1997.

Presenter, Broadway '97: Launching the Tonys, PBS, 1997.

The 51st Annual Tony Awards, 1997.

Herself, The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, 1998.

Herself, The Second Annual TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV, 2004.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Herself, "Wizard of Oz," Ford Star Jubilee, CBS, 1956.

Herself, The Judy Garland Show, CBS, 1963.

The Ed Sullivan Show, CBS, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1969, 1970.

Herself, Toast of the Town, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1969, 1970.

Minnie, "Nightingale for Sale," Mr. Broadway, NBC, 1964.

Herself, What's My Line?, 1965.

Herself, Hippodrome, 1966.

Herself, The Hollywood Palace, 1966, 1967, 1968.

Herself, The Match Game, 1967, 1968.

Herself, The Mike Douglas Show, 1967, 1969.

Herself, "Give My Regards to Broadway," The Kraft Music Hall, 1967.

Herself, "Woody Allen Looks at 1967," The Kraft Music Hall, 1967.

Herself, "The George M. Cohan Story," The Kraft Music Hall, 1967.

Herself, The Carol Burnett Show, 1967, 1968.

Guest, That's Life, 1968.

Herself, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, 1969.

Herself, The Johnny Cash Show, 1970.

This Is Tom Jones, 1970.

Herself, "Episode #101," Rowan & Martin's Laugh–In, 1971.

Herself, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, NBC, 1974, 1975, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1986.

Herself, The Muppet Show, 1979.

Herself, Today Show, NBC, 1979.

Princess Alecia, "The Princess and the Pea," Faerie Tale Theatre, Showtime, 1983.

Guest, Late Night with David Letterman, 1988.

Herself, Top of the Pops, 1989.

Herself, "Wetten, dass..? aus Basel," Wetten, dass..?, 1989.

Herself, The Arsenio Hall Show, 1991.

Herself, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, 1992.

Herself, The Howard Stern Show, 1992.

Herself, The Oprah Winfrey Show, 1992.

Herself, Ruby Wax Meets, 1996.

Herself, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001.

(In archive footage) Herself, "Judy Garland: Beyond the Rainbow," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 1999.

Herself, 20/20, ABC, 1999.

Herself, 20/20 Downtown, ABC, 1999.

Herself, So Graham Norton, Channel 4, 2002.

Herself, "Wedding Bells," Seitenblicke, 2002.

Herself, Larry King Live, CNN, 2002.

Herself, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, BBC, 2002.

Herself, Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, 2002.

Dateline NBC, NBC, 2002, 2004.

The View, ABC, 2002.

V Graham Norton, Channel 4, 2002.

Herself, TROS TV Show, 2003.

Herself, Ruby Wax With ... , 2003.

(In archive footage) Herself, Somebody's Daughter, Somebody's Son, 2004.

Also appeared in episodes of That's Life, ABC; The Keefe Brasselle Show, NBC.

Television Work; Specials:

Executive producer and post–production supervisor, Liza Minnelli Live! From Radio City Music Hall, PBS, 1992.



Best Foot Forward, Cadence, 1963.

You Are for Loving, 1963.

Liza! Liza!, Capitol, 1964.

Judy and Liza at the London Palladium, Capitol, 1964.

Flora, the Red Menace (original cast recording), RCA, 1965.

The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood (original soundtrack), ABC/Paramount, 1965.

It Amazes Me, Capitol, 1965.

Live at the London Palladium, Capitol, 1965.

There Is a Time, Capitol, 1966.

Come Saturday Morning, A&M, 1969.

New Feelin', A&M, 1970.

Cabaret (original soundtrack), ABC, 1972.

Liza with a "Z", Columbia, 1972.

Live at the Olympia in Paris, A&M, 1973.

Liza Minelli, the Singer, Columbia, 1973.

Live at the Winter Garden, Columbia, 1974.

Liza Minelli, A&M, 1975.

Four Sider, A&M, 1977.

New York, New York (original soundtrack), United Artists, 1977.

Tropical Nights, 1977.

The Act (original cast recording), DRG, 1977.

Maybe This Time, Capitol, 1978.

Best Foot Forward, Cadence, 1981.

Liza Minnelli at Carnegie Hall, Telarc, 1981.

The Rink (original cast recording), Polydor, 1984.

Lovely! Lively! Liza!, CEMA, 1987.

Results, 1989.

Highlights from Carnegie Hall Concerts, Telarc, 1989.

Live at Carnegie, Telarc, 1989.

Stepping Out, Milan, 1990.

Live from Radio City Music Hall, Columbia, 1992.

Judy and Liza: Together (with Judy Garland), 1993.

Liza, AMW, 1994.

Gently, Angel, 1996.

Blue Moon/Maybe This Time (compilation), Touch of Class, 1998.

Touch of Class (compilation), Disky, 1998.

Collection (compilation), Imprint, 1998.

From the Act (compilation), Allegiance, 1998.

Minelli on Minelli, Live at the Palace, Angel, 2000.

Liza's Back!, J Records, 2002.

Also recorded (with Frank Sinatra) Duets.

Albums; Contributor:

Muscle of Love by Alice Cooper, 1973.

Capitol Sings Cole Porter: Anything Goes, 1991.

Billy Stritch by Billy Stritch, 1991.

Celebrate Broadway, volumes 1 and 6, 1994.

25th Anniversary Retrospective by Judy Garland, 1995.

Also appeared in Family Portrait.



Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Schirmer, 2001.

Leigh, Wendy, Born a Star, E.P. Dutton, 1993.

Mair, George, Under the Rainbow: The Real Liza Minelli, Birch Lane Press, 1996.

Parish, James Robert, Liza: Her Cinderella Nightmare, W. H. Allen, 1975.

Petrucelli, Alan W., Liza! Liza! An Unauthorized Biography, Karz–Cohl, 1983.

Schechter, Scott, The Liza Minelli Scrapbook, Citadel Press, 2004.

Spada, James, and Karen Swenson, Judy and Liza, Doubleday, 1983.


Interview, March, 1991, p. 110; March, 2000, p. 124; February, 2004, p. 100.

People Weekly, May 7, 2001, p. 18; February 9, 2004, p. 22.

Time, December 13, 1999, p. 101.

Minnelli, Liza

views updated Jun 08 2018

Liza Minnelli

Liza Minnelli (born 1946), actress, singer and entertainer, came from a show business family to achieve success on her own merits. She is one of few entertainers to have won at least one Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award. Although she is often identified with her tabloid-ready battles with drugs, alcohol, and stormy love matches, Minnelli stands as one of the most respected entertainers of the last half of the twentieth century.

A Child of Fame

Minnelli was born March 12, 1946, in Los Angeles, California, to famed actress Judy Garland and her second husband, film director Vincente Minnelli. A part of the entertainment world from birth, Minnelli made her film debut in a 1949 Garland picture, In the Good Old Summertime. Due to her mother's moodiness and increasing dependence on alcohol and pills, Minnelli developed a close relationship with her father, even as a toddler; when Garland and Vincente Minnelli divorced in early 1951, the custody agreement placed five-year-old Liza with each parent for part of the year. As Wendy Leigh notes in Liza: Born a Star, "although [Garland and Minnelli] were divorcing one another, they definitely were not divorcing Liza."

Minnelli idolized her father and was in return, by his own admission, spoiled by him "outrageously." Garland's relationship with her daughter, although loving, was not as close; she remarried in 1952, to producer Sidney Luft, and was often caught up in her own substance abuse and mental problems. As a child, Minnelli dealt with her mother's repeated suicide threats and attempts, as well as her increasing alcohol and drug problems. Vincente Minnelli's two remarriages and the birth of another Minnelli daughter caused Liza Minnelli a great deal of jealousy; however, she remained a committed "daddy's girl."

Began a Career

Adolescence brought Minnelli's first genuine forays into performing. She discovered acting during her brief attendance at New York's High School of the Performing Arts, followed by a stint working in summer stock productions. Minnelli did not graduate from high school and never completed any kind of formal education; instead, she moved to New York City in early 1963 to make her way as a stage actress. Her first show, Best Foot Forward, debuted on April 2, 1963. After a brief illness, Minnelli accepted a touring role with Carnival and several months later appeared in The Fantastics.

Minnelli released her first album, Liza! Liza!, in 1964. Later that year, she shared the stage of the London Palladium with her mother. After the show, Minnelli met a protégé of Garland's named Peter Allen; within weeks, the two were engaged. Minnelli landed the lead role in the Broadway musical Flora, the Red Menace, in early 1965. Although the show itself received mixed reviews, Minnelli was a great success, becoming the youngest performer to win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance. After her Broadway show closed, Minnelli set out in September 1965 on a nightclub tour.

In late 1966, Minnelli traveled to Manchester, England to shoot her first film, Charlie Bubbles. By March 1967, she had returned to New York City where she married Peter Allen in a private ceremony. The following year brought Minnelli a starring role in Alan J. Pakula's film The Sterile Cuckoo. The film's 1969 release garnered Minnelli good reviews from critics and an Oscar nomination. For all the success of the year, however, Minnelli also experienced personal losses: her mother, Judy Garland, died on June 22, 1969, from an accidental overdose of barbiturates; and her marriage steadily weakened, culminating in a formal separation in April 1970.

Award-Winning Performances

In 1971, Minnelli traveled to Berlin to film the role of Sally Bowles in Bob Fosse's film-version of the musical Cabaret. Released in February 1972, the highly successful movie cemented Minnelli's reputation as a performer; indeed, Leigh comments that "just as Judy [Garland] had reached the pinnacle far too soon with The Wizard of Oz, so it would transpire, did Liza with Cabaret." Later that year, Minnelli taped a television special called Liza with a Z. Both Cabaret and Liza with a Z garnered Minnelli honors; Cabaret, a Best Actress Academy Award as well as a Golden Globe Award; and Liza with a Z, an Emmy Award. However, despite professional successes, Minnelli's personal life remained tumultuous. Her divorce from Peter Allen became final in 1972. By this time, Minnelli had been publicly connected to several high-profile men, most notably Desi Arnaz, Jr., to whom she was engaged for some time, and British actor Peter Sellers.

In early 1974, Minnelli returned to Broadway with the opening of her one-women show, Liza at the Winter Garden. Although the show had only a three-week run, it was quite successful and won Minnelli her second Tony award. Later that year, Minnelli met Jack Haley, Jr.—the son of the actor who had played the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz—while narrating part of Haley's documentary film, That's Entertainment. In September of that year, the two wed in Los Angeles. After their honeymoon, Minnelli resumed her hectic work schedule. Spring 1975 found her in Mexico for the filming of the comedy Lucky Lady. In late summer, Minnelli returned to New York City for five weeks to fill the role of Roxie Hart in the Broadway musical Chicago. By the end of the year, Minnelli was back in Europe, this time working with her director father on what would be his final film, A Matter of Time. Both Lucky Lady and A Matter of Time were critical and commercial failures.

Personal Turmoil in Public

Minnelli continued to work steadily, however. In 1976, she filmed the Martin Scorsese musical New York, New York, starring opposite Robert DeNiro. By the time the film was released, the press had latched onto the rumors of cocaine use on the set, helping to dampen the already lukewarm reception for the movie. Scorsese and Minnelli continued to work together despite the relative failure of New York, New York, with Scorsese directing Minnelli in his first-ever stage production, The Act. Although never a great critical success, The Act ran for several months in New York City (October 1977–July 1978) and won Minnelli her third and final Tony Award.

Minnelli's personal battle with illegal drugs continued, particularly as she became a regular at famed New York City disco Studio 54. Along with close friend and fashion designer Halston, Minnelli frequented the club nearly every night. During this time, Minnelli continued to perform nightly while staying out until dawn at Studio 54 or other nightclubs. This lifestyle took its toll on her health, causing Minnelli to miss increasing numbers of performances in early 1978 as well as take weeks off from the show to recuperate from a viral infection. In February 1978 Minnelli and husband Jack Haley, Jr., officially separated, although they did not divorce until December of that year.

The Act closed in July 1978 and Minnelli went back on the road; with her as stage manager went Mark Gero, the man who would become Minnelli's third husband. Her tour was immensely successful, foreshadowing a critical and commercial hit at New York City's Carnegie Hall the following September, Liza in Concert. In December 1979, Minnelli and Gero married; less than a week after the wedding, Minnelli suffered a miscarriage. After her recovery, she resumed working steadily, returning to television with a 1980 special, Goldie and Liza Together, which featured comedienne Goldie Hawn. Leigh noted that at this time Minnelli's "heart was still set on achieving cinematic success and reliving her Cabaret glory days." To further this goal, she accepted a role in the comedy Arthur. By summer 1981, another album, Liza in Concert, had been released to critical acclaim and Arthur was proving to be Minnelli's first film success in nearly a decade.

Rehabilitation and Reconciliation

Through the early 1980's, Minnelli continued to tour and perform around the world. Her hectic, party-fueled lifestyle had calmed down, although rumors regarding heavy drug use and marital infidelity continued to plague her. In 1984, she performed in the Broadway musical The Rink, a drama that garnered Minnelli another Tony nomination. However, Minnelli's personal life was again on the rocks. Minnelli and Gero had separated and in July 1984 she checked herself into the Betty Ford Clinic, for seven weeks, hoping to break herself of her dependency on drugs and alcohol. In early 1985, Minnelli checked into the Hazelden Clinic in Minnesota, another facility treating chemical dependencies. However, she was well enough to embark on another concert tour by summer. Also in 1985, Minnelli found time to film the television movie A Time to Live; this performance won her a Golden Globe Award. The following winter Minnelli returned to England for a tour, accompanied by her now-reconciled husband.

Personal tragedy struck again for Minnelli when Vincente Minnelli died on July 25, 1985. Still close to her father, Minnelli was severely shaken by his death; however, she did not return to drugs or alcohol. She spent the next several months working on her marriage and arranging tributes to her father. In early 1987, Minnelli went to Rome to film another movie with Burt Reynolds, Rent a Cop. That May, she opened a three-week engagement at Carnegie Hall, the longest continuous engagement by a solo performer in the Carnegie's history. The performances were captured in an album, Liza at Carnegie Hall, released in September.

Rent a Cop was released to disappointing reviews in January 1988; Minnelli, however, found success in the spring with a television drama called Sam Found Out: A Triple Play. A sequel to Arthur opened in summer 1988 to mixed reviews. That fall, Minnelli set out on the road with Sammy Davis, Jr., and Frank Sinatra, in what was dubbed the Rat Pack Tour. While the tour was visiting London in April 1989, Minnelli met with pop group the Pet Shop Boys and recorded a dance version of Stephen Sondheim's "Losing My Mind." This unlikely pairing made for a hit record, Minnelli's first pop success, charting on the Bill-board dance charts.

Minnelli continued a steady stream of work, entertaining audiences across America, and in 1990 she received the Grammy Legend Award; completing her collection of major entertainment honors. By the end of the year, however, Minnelli's marriage had again faltered. She and Gero again separated, this time for good. In April 1991, Minnelli debuted a new show at Radio City Music Hall that was so successful that she took it on an extensive American tour. Toward the end of 1991, Minnelli premiered a new film, Stepping Out, which received very little attention and was shown in only a few theaters.

Returned to the Spotlight

Throughout the 1990s Minnelli continued to appear on stage and screen. Minnelli filled in for Julie Andrews in the 1997 revival of musical Victor/Victoria, as well as appearing in many television specials including Broadway revival The West Side Waltz. In 1999, Minnelli developed a one-woman Broadway tribute to her father, Minnelli on Minnelli, a great success. Otherwise, however, during the late 1990s, Minnelli was primarily out of the limelight battling health problems. In 1997, Minnelli had hip replacement surgery; she would undergo the surgery again in 2001. She additionally had a knee replacement and a dangerous bout with viral encephalitis in 2000.

In March 2002, Minnelli returned to the spotlight with her marriage to producer David Gest. Later that year, Gest helped orchestrate Minnelli's stage comeback and follow-up album, Liza's Back! However, the remarkably rocky union served as tabloid fodder and ended in separation after only 16 months. After their separation, Gest famously claimed Minnelli had beaten him, although the charges were later dropped. In 2003, Minnelli began a recurring guest role on critically acclaimed comedy series Arrested Development, her most public role in several years. In December 2005, Minnelli filmed an episode of the respected television show Inside the Actor's Studio. Nearly 60 years old—and with no signs of giving up performing—Minnelli seems assured a place in entertainment history far beyond that of being simply Judy Garland's daughter.


Carrick, Peter, Liza Minnelli, Ulverscroft, 1993.

Leigh, Wendy, Liza: Born a Star, Dutton, 1993.


"CNN Larry King Weekend: Interview with Liza Minnelli, April 4, 2002," http://www.transcripts.cnn.com (December 22, 2005).

"Liza Minnelli," CMG Worldwide, http://www.cmgworldwide.com/stars/Minnelli/biography.htm (December 23, 2005).

Reeder, Sheryl S., "IMDb Mini Biography for Liza Minnelli," http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0591485/bio (December 22, 2005).

Minnelli, Liza

views updated May 29 2018


Nationality: American. Born: Liza May Minnelli in Los Angeles, California, 12 March 1946; daughter of the director Vincente Minnelli and the actress Judy Garland; sister of the actress Lorna Luft. Education: Attended public and private schools. Family: Married 1) Peter Allen, 1967 (divorced); 2) Jack Haley Jr., 1974 (divorced 1979); 3) Mark Gero, 1979 (divorced 1992). Career: Appeared as a small child in her mother's film In the Good Old Summertime, 1949, and on stage with her mother at the Palace Theatre, New York, 1953; 1960—toured with her school production of The Diary of Anne Frank; 1963—in Broadway production of Best Foot Forward; 1964—made first recording, and appeared as singer with her mother at London Palladium; 1965—cabaret debut; 1968—dramatic role in film Charlie Bubbles; 1972—successful television special Liza with a Z; 1978–80—with the Martha Graham Dance Co., New York. Awards: Best Actress, Academy Award and Best Actress, British Academy, for Cabaret, 1972. Agent: c/o PMK Public Relations, 1776 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, U.S.A.

Films as Actress:


In the Good Old Summertime (Leonard) (as herself)


Charlie Bubbles (Finney) (as Eliza)


The Sterile Cuckoo (Pookie) (Pakula) (as "Pookie" Adams); Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (Preminger) (title role)


Cabaret (Fosse) (as Sally Bowles)


That's Entertainment! (Haley Jr.—compilation) (as host); Journey Back to Oz (Sutherland—animation, produced in 1964) (as voice of Dorothy)


Lucky Lady (Donen) (as Claire)


A Matter of Time (Vincente Minnelli) (as Nina); Silent Movie (Mel Brooks) (as herself)


New York, New York (Scorsese) (as Francine Evans)


Arthur (Gordon) (as Linda Marolla)


The King of Comedy (Scorsese) (as herself)


A Great Wind Cometh (Golan); The Muppets Take Manhattan (Oz) (cameo)


That's Dancing! (Haley Jr.—compilation) (as host); A Time to Live (Wallace—for TV) (as Mary-Lou Weisman)


Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night (Sutherland—animation) (voice only); Minnelli on Minnelli: Liza Remembers Vincente (Schickel—doc for TV)


Rent-a-Cop (London) (as Della Roberts); Arthur 2: On the Rocks (Yorkin) (as Linda Marolla Bach)


Stepping Out (Lewis Gilbert) (as Mavis Turner)


Parallel Lives (Yellen—for TV) (as Stevie Merrill); Unzipped (as herself)


West Side Waltz (for TV)


Jackie's Back! (Robert Townsend—for TV) (as herself)


By MINNELLI: articles—

"At the Deli with Liza Minnelli," interview with M. Peterson, in Inter/View (New York), May 1972.

"Brève rencontre . . . avec Liza Minnelli et Vincente Minnelli," interview with G. Braucourt, in Ecran (Paris), December 1975.

Interview, in Photoplay (London), September 1981.

"Liza Minnelli," interview with K. D. Lang, in Interview (New York), March 1991.

On MINNELLI: books—

D'Arcy, Susan, The Films of Liza Minnelli, London, 1973; 2nd ed., Bembridge, England, 1977.

Parish, James Robert, and Jack Ano, Liza: Her Cinderella Nightmare, New York, 1975.

Petrucelli, Alan W., Liza! Liza!: An Unauthorized Biography of Liza Minnelli, London, 1983.

Spada, James, with Karen Swenson, Judy and Liza, New York, 1983.

Freedland, Michael, Liza with a 'Z': A Biography of Liza Minnelli, London, 1988.

Carrick, Peter, Liza Minnelli, London, 1993.

Leigh, Wendy, and Stephen Karten, Liza: Born a Star, New York, 1993.

Mair, George, Under the Rainbow: The Real Liza Minnelli, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1995.

On MINNELLI: articles—

Vallance T., "Liza Minnelli," in Focus on Film (London), Summer 1972.

Ecran (Paris), January 1978.

Current Biography 1988, New York, 1988.

"Liza!," in Harper's Bazaar (New York), August 1988.

Servin, James, "Liza," in Harper's Bazaar (New York), August 1990.

Clark, John, filmography in Premiere (New York), May 1991.

Scott, Jay, "Liza's Buffalo Shuffle," in Premiere (New York), May 1991.

"We Try Harder," in Art Forum, Summer, 1993.

Stars (Mariembourg), Winter 1993.

Mead, R., "Liza," in New York Magazine, 13 January, 1997.

* * *

Liza Minnelli has not had much of a film career since New York, New York and her output, including the telefilms, is slight. Nevertheless, she has appeared in works that have been important in illustrating that she remains a major talent who continues to evolve. Most striking in this regard is A Time to Live, Minnelli's first telefilm, in which she plays the role of a middle-class suburban woman whose son has muscular dystrophy. Playing a wife/mother who, in addition to fulfilling the caretaker role, struggles to accept the fact that her son will die young, Minnelli's role represents a radical departure. While she brings her familiar emotional intensity to the characterization, Minnelli tempers the character's emotionalism by emphasizing her innate intelligence, determination, and discipline. Minnelli's performance is deeply felt, she is given strong support by her co-stars and the script has an integrity which lifts it above the inherent melodramatics of the subject matter.

In contrast to the unrelenting dramatics of A Time to Live, Stepping Out is a musical that makes wonderful use of Minnelli's identity as a dancer, singer, and theatrical personality: an ideal Minnelli project allowing her to integrate her musical talents into a comedy/drama narrative. Unlike her previous musicals, the film has a contemporary setting and gives her a character who interacts with other women. It should have revived Minnelli's film career but both the critics and the public were indifferent. Perhaps the film lacked sufficient star power and Minnelli, while surrounded by a strong supporting cast, did not have a name co-star; in any case, Stepping Out is Minnelli's sole theatrical feature of quality and substance since New York, New York. The low point of the more recent projects is Rent-a-Cop, a film which clumsily tries to combine the genres of the action film and the romantic comedy. Minnelli's flamboyant performance as a brassy prostitute is a disaster and in great part because the film's writers and director give her no help whatsoever in integrating the character into what is clearly a Burt Reynolds vehicle.

Aside from their being strong projects and the opportunities they afford Minnelli as an actor, A Time to Live and Stepping Out are of interest in that both films present Minnelli as a person who accepts responsibility and makes a commitment to those who need help. Clearly, Minnelli's screen persona has grown considerably from the early 1970s. The image of a mature and caring person is present as early as Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon but it was obscured by the unstable characters she played in The Sterile Cuckoo and Cabaret. New York, New York presents Minnelli as the responsible person in a relationship and in Stepping Out, Minnelli, playing a dance teacher, makes a professional and personal commitment to her students.

Minnelli's on-screen image as a more mature person is reinforced by her offscreen identity. From early on in her career, Minnelli publicly acknowledged her parents, their talent and creativity. Minnelli on Minnelli: Liza Remembers Vincente is an intelligent and affectionate documentary on her father's films; and Minnelli in concert and print has repeatedly honored her mother as a singer and actor. From another perspective, Minnelli has shown herself to be a caring person giving of her time and energy to the raising of money for AIDS victims. She has also been a high profile supporter of gay and lesbian rights.

There is no obvious explanation as to why Minnelli's film career has not fully succeeded. Possibly, she chose to make live performance work her priority and channeled her efforts to that end; or, it may be that her persona is a bit at odds with a popular image of the contemporary woman. Minnelli tends to display a highly emotional sensibility which counters the notion that today's women are in control of their feelings. Also, Minnelli has cultivated, through the ties to her parents, an identity that connects her image to the classical Hollywood cinema. The reference to Hollywood's past may cause some confusion in the public's mind as to what era Minnelli's presence personifies.

Minnelli keeps active doing live performances. She maintains an enthusiasm and energy and has managed not to be locked into playing the diva. In her most recent film project, the telefilm West Side Waltz, she undertakes a character part enacting the role of a naive and insecure middle-aged woman who discovers that she is capable of taking on responsibilities and, in doing so, begins to value herself. While Minnelli provides a charming and distinctive characterization in West Side Waltz, she should not be relegated to older women character parts. Minnelli is a vibrant and attractive woman and what she deserves is the opportunity to fully utilize her talents on-screen and grow as a person and artist.

—Richard Lippe

Minnelli, Liza

views updated Jun 27 2018


Born: Los Angeles, California, 12 March 1946

Genre: Vocal

Best-selling album since 1990: Gently (1996)

Along with fellow chanteuse Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli is one of the last pop singers to embody an old-fashioned sense of showman-ship, or "chutzpah." Show business is in her blood: She is the daughter of legendary singer Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli. Mirroring a pattern of her late mother's career, Minnelli's ongoing tabloid publicity has often threatened to overwhelm her sizable artistic achievements. Yet, as her finest work shows, Minnelli is a full-fledged performer with intrinsic star quality. If her albums have sometimes disappointed, it is because the relatively constrained medium of recording cannot always contain her; she relies on the expansiveness of the stage to put her larger-than-life performances across.

Raised in an environment of glittering celebritylegendary pop singer Frank Sinatra was the first person to visit her as an infantMinnelli had adulthood thrust upon her at an early age. "My life has been lived in front of the press," she told the U.K. Guardian in 1996. "I was born and someone took a picture and it's been that way ever since." Her parents divorced when she was five, and by age twelve Minnelli had become caregiver to her fragile, unstable mother, managing the household and even purchasing a stomach pump as a precaution against Garland's many suicide attempts with pills.

Broadway, Film, and Television Stardom

Moving to New York with her parents' encouragement in the early 1960s, Minnelli soon won Broadway's Tony Award for her performance in the musical Flora, the Red Menace (1965), in which her luminous performance of "A Quiet Thing" was a highlight. Overcoming the death of her mother in 1969 and the breakup of her marriage to singer/songwriter Peter Allen the next year, Minnelli achieved stardom with the 1972 film version of the Broadway musical Cabaret. Her brassy portrayal of second-rate nightclub singer Sally Bowles, trying to survive amidst the desperation of the Weimar Republic in 1930s Berlin, was unforgettable, earning her an Academy Award for Best Actress. The same year she released Liza with a "Z," a live
album from her television special of the same name. The album, her most commercially successful release, displays Minnelli at her best: sharp, exuberant, and funny, with an engaging, somewhat dizzy stage presence. During the early 1980s she was often out of the spotlight due to drug and alcohol problems, but she overcame them by the end of the decade, touring extensively and recording an album with English pop group the Pet Shop Boys. In addition, throughout the 1980s Minnelli appeared in some memorable film roles, most notably Arthur (1981).

Taking Risks in the 1990s

While no longer the superstar of two decades earlier, Minnelli by the mid-1990s was a seasoned, venerable artist with the power to select and oversee her own projects. Always more renowned for her stage performances than her recordings, Minnelli took a career risk in 1996 with the release of Gently, an album of classic pop songs featuring a sparse, restrained arrangementquite different from the large-scale orchestration accompanying her in live shows. Since age, drugs, and cigarettes have worn Minnelli's voice markedly, the choice to feature her in such an unadorned setting is a bold one.

Critics have observed that Minnelli is a blunt vocalist: She is frequently off pitch and has trouble sustaining phrases, often cutting them off with a dusky croak. Nonetheless, she performs Gently 's songs with ample dramatic skill. "In the Wee Small Hours," a song associated with her old friend Frank Sinatra, appeals to Minnelli's fans as especially moving. Coming in after a sensitive, two-minute piano solo, Minnelli strips the lyrics down to their barest essentials, imparting to lines such as "that's the time you miss him most of all" a soul-baring fragility. On "Embraceable You," a song taught to her as a child by famed pop and jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald, she is smoky and dark, delivering, critics remarked, an almost frighteningly deep interpretation. The album is not entirely serious, however: On "Close Your Eyes," she plays with the lyrics and melody in a light-hearted manner, suggesting a jazz singer's sense of improvisation. While critics noted a few misfiresshe sounds too rough around the edges on her duet with smooth-voiced 1950s singer Johnny Mathis, for exampleGently displays a new artistic maturity.

In late 1999 Minnelli returned to the scene of her mother's greatest performancesthe Palace Theater in New Yorkin Minnelli on Minnelli, a show featuring classic songs from musicals directed by her father, who died in 1986. On the live album of the same name, released in 2000, Minnelli often sounds winded but manages to summon her familiar bravado on songs such as "What Did I Have That I Don't Have." Minnelli's career has continued to be nurtured by a loyal, largely gay male fan base fond of her dramatic persona and style. Reviewing a 2002 performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the U.K. Independent caustically remarked, "When she drank a glass of water, [her fans] roared. And when she emerged in a tiny black costume stretched to danger point . . . and asked, 'Does this look all right?' they said yes." Other reviews of the engagement were more positive, with critics noting her slimmed-down appearance, renewed vocal energy, and magnetic power. The London Evening Standard perceptively noted the symbiotic quality existing between Minnelli and her fans: "There is still the sense that she needs all the help she can get from the audience. Their adoration is not merely requested; it is essential." Minnelli's engagement at Royal Albert Hall came on the heels of her much-publicized wedding to music and television producer David Gest, whom she credited with helping her survive a 2001 bout with encephalitis during which she nearly died.

Beyond the tormented family history, bouts with drugs, and ongoing tabloid speculation over her private life, Minnelli should be noted for her drive and tenacity, a performer who embodies the old maxim, "The show must go on." As an artist, she possesses a communicative power lacking in many singers, even in those with technically finer voices. Soulful and generous, Minnelli approaches music as she does life: head-on, with a do-or-die enthusiasm that pulls fans into her idiosyncratic world. She has earned her reputation as a show-biz survivor.


Liza! Liza! (Capitol, 1964); Liza with a "Z" (Columbia, 1972); Results (Epic, 1989); Liza Minnelli Live from Radio City Music Hall (Sony, 1992); Gently (Angel, 1996); Minnelli on Minnelli (Angel, 2000); Liza's Back (J-Records, 2002).


The Sterile Cuckoo (1969); Cabaret (1972); New York, New York (1977); Arthur (1981); That's Dancing! (1985); Stepping Out (1991).

david freeland

Minnelli, Liza

views updated May 17 2018

Minnelli, Liza

Minnelli, Liza, b. Los Angeles, March 12, 1946. Without the most showstopping of pop voices, the daughter of actress-singer Judy Garland and director Vincente Minnelli compensates with adrenaline, energy, and charisma. In concert, she whirls through songs in a variety of colorfully sequined costumes, flailing her elbows and knees in every possible choreographed direction. Her most famous part remains the awed Sally Bowles, from the Bob Fosse musical Cabaret, the movie version of which earned Minnelli a best actress Oscar in 1972. Having grown up in a show-biz family—Ira Gershwin was her godfather—Minnelli tried her best to distance herself from her mother’s image. In fact, she refused to sing any of the late Garland’s trademark songs until recently, when she unveiled a 75th birthday tribute during a concert. The goal turned out to be easy: Minnelli’s good looks developed much differently from her mother’s all-American pinup-girl image, but she also had a more versatile face for comedy, theater, and energetic stage shows. Early in life, she had to deal with tending to her mother’s debilitating emotional problems, plus resentment from fellow actresses who assumed she was coasting on connections. She shook all that off in the early 1960s when she started landing prominent Broadway musicals and adoring audiences; her biggest break, Cabaret, came in the early 1970s. Despite Valium and alcohol addiction problems, a series of divorces, and a growing public lack of interest in her specialty (musical varieties), Minnelli has remained a popular television and concert draw. She overcame most of her problems after checking into the Betty Ford Center in the late 1980s, and even wound up recording with the electronic rock band Pet Shop Boys.


Liza! Liza! (1964); It Amazes Me (1965); Live at the London Palladium (1965); Come Saturday Morning (1969); Cabaret (soundtrack; 1972); Liza with a“Z” (1972); At Carnegie Hall (1979); Highlights: Carnegie Hall Concerts (1989); Results (1989); Live from Radio City Music Hall (1992); Gently (1996); Maybe This Time (1996); Minnelli on Minnelli: Live at the Palace (2000); 16 Biggest Hits (2000).