Liza May Minnelli (born March 12, 1946) is an American actress and singer. Best known for her Academy Award-winning performance in Cabaret (1972), she is famous for her energetic stage presence and her powerful mezzo-soprano singing voice. She is the daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli. In 1972, she became the only Oscar recipient whose parents also won Oscar awards.
Seeking theatrical work, Minnelli moved to New York City in 1961, where she began her career as a musical theatre actress, nightclub performer and traditional pop music artist. She made her professional stage debut in the 1963 Off-Broadway revival of Best Foot Forward and won a Tony Award for starring in Flora the Red Menace in 1965, which marked the start of her lifelong collaboration with John Kander and Fred Ebb. They wrote, produced or directed many of Minnelli's future stage acts and TV shows and helped create her stage persona of a stylized survivor, including her career-defining performances of anthems of survival ("New York, New York", "Cabaret" and "Maybe This Time"). Along with her roles on stage and screen, this persona and her style of performance added to Minnelli's status as an enduring gay icon.
Critically lauded for her early non-musical screen performances—especially The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)—Minnelli rose to international stardom, starring in Cabaret and the Emmy Award-winning TV special Liza with a Z (1972). Most of her following films—including Lucky Lady (1975), New York, New York (1977), Rent-a-Cop (1988) and Stepping Out (1991)—were panned by the critics and bombed at the box office, and she had no more major movie hits except Arthur (1981). She returned to Broadway on a number of occasions, including The Act (1977), The Rink (1984) and Liza's at The Palace.... (2008), worked on various television formats and has predominantly focused on music hall and nightclub performances since the late 1970s. Her concert performances at Carnegie Hall in 1979 and 1987, and at Radio City Music Hall in 1991 and 1992 are recognized among her most successful. From 1988 to 1990, she toured with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. in Frank, Liza & Sammy: The Ultimate Event.
Best known for her renditions of pop standards, Minnelli's early 1960s pop singles were produced to attract a young audience, and her albums from 1968 to 1977 contained much of the contemporary singer-songwriter material. In 1989, she ventured into the contemporary pop scene by collaborating with the Pet Shop Boys on the album Results. After a hiatus due to serious health problems, Minnelli returned to the concert stage in 2002 with Liza's Back and was an acclaimed guest star in the sitcom Arrested Development between 2003 and 2013. Since the 2010s, she has avoided huge concert tours in favor of small retrospective performances.
Minnelli was born on March 12, 1946 in Hollywood, California, to Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli. Her parents named her after Ira Gershwin's song "Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away)". Minnelli has a half-sister, Lorna, and half-brother, Joey, from Garland's marriage to Sid Luft. She has another half-sister, Christiane Nina Minnelli (nicknamed Tina Nina), from her father's second marriage. Minnelli's godparents were Kay Thompson and her husband William Spier.
Her first performing experience on film was at age three appearing in the final scene of the musical In the Good Old Summertime (1949); the film stars Garland and Van Johnson In 1956 she landing the lead role of Sally Gold in Little New Orleans Girl. In 1961 she moved to New York City, attending High School of Performing Arts and later, Chadwick School.
During 1961, Minnelli was an apprentice at the Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis, Massachusetts. She appeared in the chorus of Flower Drum Song and played the part of Muriel in Take Me Along. She began performing professionally at age 17 in 1963 in an Off-Broadway revival of the musical Best Foot Forward, for which she received the Theatre World Award.
The next year, her mother invited her to perform with her in concert at the London Palladium. Both concerts were recorded and released as an album. She attended Scarsdale High School for one year, starring in a production of The Diary of Anne Frank which then went to Israel on tour. She turned to Broadway at 19, and won her first Tony Award as a leading actress for Flora the Red Menace. It was the first time that she worked with the musical pair John Kander and Fred Ebb.
Minnelli began as a nightclub singer as an adolescent, making her professional nightclub debut at the age of 19 at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. That same year she began appearing in other clubs and on stage in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and New York City. Her success as a live performer led to her record several albums for Capitol Records: Liza! Liza! (1964), It Amazes Me (1965), and There Is a Time (1966). In her early years, she recorded traditional pop standards as well as show tunes from various musicals in which she starred. Because of this fact, William Ruhlmann named her "Barbra Streisand's little sister". The Capitol albums Liza! Liza!, It Amazes Me, and There Is A Time were reissued on the two-CD compilation The Capitol Years in 2001, in their entirety.
From 1968 to the 1970s, she also recorded her albums Liza Minnelli (1968), Come Saturday Morning and New Feelin' (both 1970) for A&M Records. She released The Singer (1973) and Tropical Nights (1977) on Columbia Records.
In 1989, Minnelli collaborated with the Pet Shop Boys on Results, an electronic dance-style album. The release hit the top 10 in the UK and charted in the U.S., spawning four singles: "Losing My Mind"; "Don't Drop Bombs"; "So Sorry, I Said'"; and "Love Pains". Later that year, she performed "Losing My Mind" live at the Grammys Award ceremony before receiving a Grammy Legend Award (the first Grammy Legend Awards were issued in 1990 to Minnelli, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Smokey Robinson, and Willie Nelson). With this award, she became one of only 16 people—a list that includes composer Richard Rodgers, Whoopi Goldberg, Barbra Streisand, and John Gielgud and others—to win an Emmy, Grammy, Tony Award, and Academy Award.
In April 1992, Minnelli appeared at the tribute concert for her late friend Freddie Mercury, performing "We Are the Champions" with the surviving members of the rock band Queen at Wembley Stadium in London. In 1996, Minnelli released a studio album titled Gently. It was a recording of jazz standards and included contemporary songs such as the cover of Does He Love You which she performed as a duet with Donna Summer. This album brought her a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance.
In 2006, Minnelli appeared on My Chemical Romance's album The Black Parade, providing backing vocals and singing a solo part with Gerard Way on the track "Mama." Minnelli was nominated in 2009 for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for her studio recording Liza's at the Palace...!, based on her hit Broadway show. Minnelli released an album on the Decca Records label titled Confessions on September 21, 2010.
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Liza Minnelli among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
Her first appearance on film is as the baby in the very last shot of her mother's film In the Good Old Summertime (1949) and She lead role of Sally Gold from the Republic Pictures feature the 1956 film "Little New Orleans Girl. Her first credited film role was as the love-interest in Charlie Bubbles (1967), Albert Finney's only film as director and star, although four years earlier, she did voiceover work for the animated film Journey Back to Oz, a sequel to The Wizard of Oz. Minnelli was the voice of Dorothy (a character played in the earlier film by her mother Judy Garland) in what would have been her first credited film role had it been released in 1964 as planned—the Filmation production was delayed, eventually being released in the UK during 1972.
Minnelli appeared in The Sterile Cuckoo (1969), Alan J. Pakula's first feature film, as Pookie Adams, a needy, eccentric teenager. Her performance was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. She played another eccentric character in Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970), directed by Otto Preminger.
Minnelli appeared in her best-known film role, Sally Bowles, in the film version of Cabaret (1972). She said that one of the things she did to prepare was to study photographs of actresses Louise Glaum and Louise Brooks and the dark-haired women of the era in which the film is set.[magazine verification needed] Minnelli won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance, along with a Golden Globe Award, BAFTA Award, and also Sant Jordi Award and David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actress.
Following the success of Cabaret, Bob Fosse and Minnelli teamed for Liza with a 'Z'. A Concert for Television, a television special. The program aired two times on TV and was not seen again until a DVD release in 2006.
Minelli appeared in three expensive flops in three years, with Variety suggesting by 1978 that she was the number one choice for box office poison. First was Lucky Lady (1975), then she worked with her father in A Matter of Time (1976), co-starring Ingrid Bergman and then New York, New York (1977), which gave Minnelli her best known signature song. She sometimes performed duets on stage with Frank Sinatra, who recorded a cover version (for his Trilogy: Past Present Future album).
Minnelli made fewer film appearances from then on but her next film, Arthur (1981), where she starred as Dudley Moore's love interest, was a big hit. She returned to film for Rent-A-Cop and Arthur 2: On the Rocks (both 1988) and Stepping Out (1991), a musical comedy drama. She later appeared in The Oh in Ohio in 2006 which only received a limited release in theatres.
During the 1950s, Minnelli appeared as a child guest on Art Linkletter's show and sang and danced with Gene Kelly on his first television special in 1959. She was a guest star in one episode of the Ben Casey and was a frequent guest on chat shows of the day including numerous appearances on shows hosted by Jack Paar, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, Joe Franklin, Dinah Shore and Johnny Carson. During the 1960s, she made several guest appearances on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In as well as other variety shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Hollywood Palace, and The Judy Garland Show.
In 1964, she appeared as Minnie in her first television dramatic role in the episode "Nightingale for Sale" on Craig Stevens's short-lived series Mr. Broadway.
In December 1992, American Public Television aired Liza Minnelli Live from Radio City Music Hall produced by Phil Ramone and Chris Giordano. The show received six Emmy nominations and won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music and Lyrics, awarded to Fred Ebb and John Kander.
Much later in her career, Minnelli made guest appearances on shows such as Arrested Development, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Drop Dead Diva. In the UK, she appeared on the Ruby Wax, Graham Norton and Jonathan Ross shows, and in October 2006, participated in a comedy skit on Charlotte Church's show and was featured on Michael Parkinson's show.
In November 2009, American Public Television aired Liza's at the Palace, taped from September 30 to October 1, 2009 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand's Hollywood Theatre. The executive producers of the taping, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, were previously involved with the 2005 rerelease of 1972's Emmy Award- and Peabody Award-winning Liza with a 'Z'.
Minnelli returned to Broadway in 1997, taking over the title role in the musical Victor/Victoria, replacing Julie Andrews. In his review, New York Times critic Ben Brantley wrote "her every stage appearance is perceived as a victory of show-business stamina over psychic frailty. She asks for love so nakedly and earnestly, it seems downright vicious not to respond."
After a serious case of viral encephalitis in 2000, doctors predicted that Minnelli would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair and perhaps not be able to speak again. However, taking vocal and dance lessons daily (especially with Sam Harris, Ron Lewis, and Angela Bacari), she managed to recover. She returned to the stage in 2001 when asked by long-time friend Michael Jackson to perform at Madison Square Garden in New York City where she sang "Never Never Land" and the televised "You Are Not Alone" at the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special concert produced by future husband David Gest. Minnelli told reporters: "I am stable as a table."
Gest was so impressed with Minnelli's stamina and ability to stun audiences that he produced her in Liza's Back in Spring 2002, performing to rave reviews in London and New York City. The tour featured a tribute to her mother: after years of declining fans' pleas for her to sing Garland's signature song "Over The Rainbow", she concluded Act 1 with the final refrain of her mother's anthem to an instant ovation. Amongst performing her classic hits, other numbers unreleased in the album version included "I Believe You" by The Carpenters, a rap version of "Liza with a Z", "Yes", and Mary J. Blige's "Family Affair".
VH1 signed Minnelli and Gest in 2002 to appear in a reality show titled Liza and David. The pilot episode was filmed following the couple around as they prepared for a party at their home, with a guest list including Ray Charles, Luther Vandross, Isaac Mizrahi, Anastacia, and others. The show was cancelled shortly after the pilot episode was filmed due to a dispute between VH1, Gest and Minnelli, and never aired. Recordings of the pilot episode still exist.
From 2003 through 2005, she appeared as a recurring character on the Emmy Award-winning TV sitcom Arrested Development as Lucille Austero (also known as "Lucille 2"), the lover of both the sexually and socially awkward Buster Bluth and Buster's brother Gob. Minnelli appeared in the role for the show's fourth season in 2013.
In September 2006, Minnelli made a guest appearance on the long-running drama Law & Order: Criminal Intent in "Masquerade", a Halloween-themed episode, broadcast on October 31, 2006.
Minnelli also completed guest vocals on My Chemical Romance's 2006 concept album The Black Parade, portraying "Mother War," a dark conception of the main character's mother in the song "Mama".
Minnelli returned to Broadway in a new solo concert at the Palace Theatre titled Liza's at The Palace...!, which ran from December 3, 2008 through January 4, 2009. In her second act, she performed a series of numbers created by Kay Thompson. The reviews noted that, while her voice was ragged at times, and her movements no longer elastic, the old magic was still very much present. The show then was staged at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas from September 30 to October 1, 2009, at which time it was filmed for broadcast on public television and a February 2010 DVD and Blu-ray release.
On January 10, 2009, Minnelli made a rare live TV appearance in a surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live, playing the best friend of Penelope (Kristen Wiig).
On January 26, 2009, she made an appearance on The View, singing "I Would Never Leave You" (written by Johnny Rodgers, Billy Stritch, and Brian Lane Green) from her CD Liza's at The Palace...!. She also was interviewed by the cast of The View.
Minnelli was a character in the Australian musical The Boy from Oz (a biography of her first husband) starring Hugh Jackman. In the show's Broadway production, she was portrayed by Stephanie J. Block. In October 2009, Minnelli toured Australia, and appeared on Australian Idol as a mentor and guest judge. In February 2010, Minnelli appeared in a Snickers commercial along with Aretha Franklin and Betty White. Minnelli made a cameo appearance in the May 2010 release of Sex and the City 2, in which she covered Beyoncé's hit Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) and Cole Porter's Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye. She made a starring appearance in December 2010 in The Apprentice.
Also in 2010, Minnelli released an album of a number of American standards "unplugged" with long time collaborator Billy Stritch, showing a sultrier and softer, more interpretive side to her artistry. The songs are said to have been recorded several years prior and later released as the album Confessions.
On June 14, 2012, Minnelli headlined at Hampton Court Palace Festival. On May 9, 2014, Minnelli had a guest appearance on Cher's Dressed to Kill Tour in Brooklyn, performing "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" with Cyndi Lauper and Rosie O'Donnell. On July 24, 2015, Minnelli performed at the IP Casino Resort & Spa, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the closing of Flora the Red Menace.
Main article: Liza Minnelli discography
- Studio albums
- Liza! Liza! (1964)
- It Amazes Me (1965)
- There Is a Time (1966)
- Liza Minnelli (1968)
- Come Saturday Morning (1969)
- New Feelin' (1970)
- The Singer (1973)
- Tropical Nights (1977)
- Results (1989)
- Gently (1996)
- Confessions (2010)
|1949||In the Good Old Summertime||Veronica and Andrew's Daughter||Uncredited role|
|1956||Little New Orleans Girl||Sally Gold|
|1964||Mr. Broadway||Minnie||Episode: "Nightingale for Sale"|
|1968||That's Life||Secretary||Episode: "Twas the Night Before Christmas"|
|1969||The Sterile Cuckoo||Mary Ann "Pookie" Adams||Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress|
|1970||Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon||Junie Moon|
|1972||Cabaret||Sally Bowles||Academy Award for Best Actress|
|1972||Journey Back to Oz||Dorothy Gale (voice)||Recorded in 1962, released in the U.S. in 1974|
|1976||A Matter of Time||Nina|
|1977||New York, New York||Francine Evans|
|1984||Faerie Tale Theatre||Princess Alecia||Episode: "The Princess and the Pea"|
|1985||A Time to Live||Mary-Lou Weisman||TV movie|
|Arthur 2: On the Rocks||Linda Marolla Bach|
|1991||Stepping Out||Mavis Turner|
|1994||Parallel Lives||Stevie Merrill||TV movie|
|1995||The West Side Waltz||Cara Varnum||TV movie|
|Arrested Development||Lucille Austero||21 episodes|
|2006||The Oh in Ohio||Alyssa Donahue|
|2006||Law & Order: Criminal Intent||Beth Harner||Episode: "Masquerade"|
|2009||Drop Dead Diva||Lily Wells||Episode: "Make Me a Match"|
|1963||The Judy Garland Show||Episode: "The Judy Garland Christmas Special"|
|1964||Judy and Liza at the Palladium||TV special with Judy Garland|
|1965||The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood||TV special|
|1972||Liza with a "Z": A Concert for Television||Special|
|1974- 2004||The Liza Minnelli Show||Host|
|1974||Love from A to Z||TV special with Charles Aznavour|
|1976||Silent Movie||Cameo appearance|
|1979||The Muppet Show||Episode: "Liza Minnelli"|
|1980||Goldie and Liza Together||TV special with Goldie Hawn|
|1980||An Evening with Liza Minnelli||TV special|
|1983||The King of Comedy||Credit only|
|1984||The Muppets Take Manhattan||Cameo appearance|
|1986||Liza in London||TV special|
|1987||Minnelli on Minnelli: Liza Remembers Vincente||Documentary|
|1988||Sam Found Out: A Triple Play||TV special|
|1989||Frank, Liza & Sammy: The Ultimate Event||TV special with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.|
|1992||The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness||TV special|
|1992||Liza Live from Radio City Music Hall||TV special|
|1993||Liza and Friends: A Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.||Special (with Charles Aznavour, Tom Jones, Jerry Lewis & Cliff Richard)|
|1999||Jackie's Back||TV film (cameo appearance)|
|2010||Sex and the City 2||Cameo appearance|
|2013||Smash||Episode: "The Surprise Party"|
|1961||Wish You Were Here||Ballet solo||Cape Cod Melody Tent, Hyannis, Massachusetts|
|1961||Take Me Along||Muriel||Cape Cod Melody Tent, Hyannis, Massachusetts|
|1961||Flower Drum Song||Chorus||Cape Cod Melody Tent, Hyannis, Massachusetts|
|1961–1962||The Diary of Anne Frank||Anne Frank||Scarsdale High School, Scarsdale, New York and Israel Tour|
|1963||Best Foot Forward||Ethel Hofflinger||Off-Broadway (Stage 73, New York City)|
|1964||Carnival!||Lili||Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, New Jersey|
|1964||Time Out For Ginger||Ginger||Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope, Pennsylvania|
|1964||The Fantasticks||Luisa||US National Tour|
|1965||Flora the Red Menace||Flora||Broadway (Alvin Theatre, New York City)|
|1966||The Pajama Game||Babe Williams||US National Tour|
|1974||Liza||Herself (one-woman show)||Broadway (Winter Garden Theatre, New York City)|
|1975||Chicago||Roxie Hart||Broadway (46th Street Theatre, New York City)|
Note: replacement for Gwen Verdon
|1977–1978||The Act||Michelle Craig||Broadway (Majestic Theatre, New York City)|
|1978||Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?||Letter Reader (cameo)||Off-Broadway (Promenade Theatre, New York City)|
|1978–1979||The Owl and the Pussycat||The Storyteller||Metropolitan Opera House (Lincoln Center), New York City|
|1984||The Rink||Angel||Broadway (Martin Beck Theatre, New York City)|
|1994||Love Letters||Melissa Gardner||Coconut Grove Playhouse, Miami, Florida|
|1997||Victor/Victoria||Victoria Grant||Broadway (Marquis Theatre, New York City)|
Note: vacation replacement for Julie Andrews
|1999–2000||Minnelli on Minnelli: Live at the Palace||Herself (one-woman show)||Broadway (Palace Theatre, New York City)|
|2008–2009||Liza's at The Palace....||Herself (one-woman show)||Broadway (Palace Theatre, New York City)|
|2013||Liza's and Alan||Herself||Broadway (Town Hall, New York City)|