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|Also Known As:||Liza May Minnelli||Died:|
|Born:||March 12, 1946||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Los Angeles, California, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor singer dancer|
rected by Bob Fosse, before marrying filmmaker (and son of "Oz" Tin Man) Jack Haley, Jr. and entering one of the busiest eras of her film career. She invoked memories of her mother in Stanley Donen's quasi-musical "Lucky Lady" (1975) and worked with her director father in the critical and commercial flop "A Matter of Time" (1976), playing a movie star recalling her days as a hotel maid. Her compelling performance as a big band singer in Martin Scorsese's dark musical drama "New York, New York" (1977), however, earned the actress another Golden Globe Award and gave birth to her signature song. Her marriage to Haley over, she and Scorsese became romantically involved as a result of their professional collaboration, with Liza next appearing in the director's musical Broadway production "The Act." The production again teamed her with Kander and Ebb, leading to a second Best Musical Actress Tony for her turn as a nightclub singer coping with life and show business. And speaking of nightclubs, Minnelli became an almost permanent fixture at Studio 54 in New York in the late seventies disco heyday, often working the couch next to such famous 54 luminaries as her close friends Halston, Andy Warhol, Michael Jackson and Liz Taylor.
Minnelli went on to be featured in numerous variety shows and tributes, including "Baryshnikov on Broadway" (NBC, 1980), "Goldie [Hawn] and Liza Together" (CBS, 1980), and a memorably sweet pairing with Kermit on "The Muppet Show" (syndicated, 1976-1981). During that time, she took a third trip down the aisle, marrying artist Mark Gero. One of Minnelli's biggest box office successes ¿ and a rare non-song and dance role ¿ came with the 1981 romantic comedy "Arthur," in which she played a fast-talking, working-class New Yorker opposite fun-loving, eternally inebriated British millionaire Dudley Moore. The pair's chemistry charmed audiences and critics alike, with Minnelli receiving another Golden Globe nomination for her comedic performance. The film's Academy Award-winning theme song by Christopher Cross, "Arthur's Theme (The Best that You can Do)," was coincidentally co-penned by Minnelli's ex-husband Peter Allen.
Returning to the song and dance arena, Minnelli took her one woman show "By Myself" to Los Angeles and London in 1984, before a return to Broadway alongside Chita Rivera in the Kander and Ebb show "The Rink," for which she earned another Tony nomination. In 1985, Minnelli earned a Golden Globe for her portrayal of a mother whose son is coping with muscular dystrophy in the TV movie "A Time to Live" (NBC, 1985), after which she was absent from screen acting until the unsuccessful sequel "Arthur 2: On The Rocks" (1988), which failed primarily because people had awoken to the fact that alcoholism was no longer a laughing matter. In 1989 she replaced an ailing Dean Martin by joining Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. for the landmark television concert "Frank, Liza and Sammy: The Ultimate Event" (Showtime, 1989). The same year, she scored with younger audiences when the album Results, a collaboration with the pop group The Pet Shop Boys, spawned the U.K. Top Ten hit, "Losing My Mind."
As the 1990s commenced, Minnelli continued to tour steadily to sold-out audiences but appeared erratically on screens throughout the new decade. In the feature "Stepping Out" (1991), she portrayed a dedicated teacher of aspiring Broadway talents; released a soundtrack album, and followed up with another live offering, Live from Radio City Music Hall (1992). Sadly, she also divorced a third time, and began surfacing in TV movies such as "Parallel Lives" (Showtime, 1994) and "The West Side Waltz" (CBS, 1995). She returned to the Great White Way in 1997, temporarily replacing Julie Andrews in the title role of the stage production of "Victor/Victoria." In 1999, she performed a limited run at Broadway's Palace Theater in "Minnelli on Minnelli," a concert paying tribute to her father.
By the dawn of the new millennium, Liza Minnelli was unquestionably an entertainment legend, but her often undignified personal trials were landing far more press than her tireless touring schedule. She was in and out of rehab for alcoholism, and hospitals for hip and back surgeries. A case of viral encephalitis that was expected to leave her wheelchair bound for the remainder of her life was the greatest threat. But Minnelli segued from physical therapy to dance lessons, announcing her triumphant return to the stage in 2002 with the show "Liza's Back" on Broadway and an ensuing European tour. The resilient icon had returned to the spotlight and, like she had during other successful periods in her life, celebrated with a new husband, concert producer David Gest, a man who took all the credit for getting the icon back up on her feet and in the spotlight again.
The odd pairing landed Minnelli more gossip ink than she had known in years, beginning with the unlikely pair's spectacularly over-the-top wedding ceremony, whose guests included Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor. It was also at this same ceremony that Gest practically swallowed whole his wife's face when he was informed he could "kiss the bride." Gay rumors followed Gest ¿ which, if true, would not have been the first time Minnelli had fallen for a possible homosexual. Much like Garland, who had fallen in love with Liza's closeted father, Minnelli was drawn to the same kind of men. Her hopeful new beginning quickly proved otherwise, amid rumors that the plastic surgery-addicted Gest was, in addition to gay, a gold digger as well. VH1 signed the wobbly and bickering duo for a reality TV show but reneged on the contract when Gest was deemed too difficult to work with. Within 16 months, the couple filed for divorce and the seemingly endless proceedings aired accusations of Minnelli trying to poison Gest and giving him herpes and accusations that Gest was controlling and abusive.
Minnelli rebounded from the heckling personal headlines with one of her best comedic performances to date, in a recurring role as Lucille Austero, a.ka.a. "Lucille 2" and love interest of socially inept Buster Bluth (Tony Hale), on Fox's cult fave TV series, "Arrested Development" (Fox, 2003-06). In 2006, her image received yet another boost with the DVD release of her infamous 1972 TV special "Liza with a 'Z.'" Three years later, Minnelli released the DVD "Liza¿s at the Palace!" (2009), her heralded return to the Broadway stage in a musical production that earned Minnelli a special Drama Desk Award and a Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event. Continuing to appear on screens large and small, she enjoyed a guest turn on "Drop Dead Diva" (Lifetime, 2009- ), made a cameo as herself in "Sex and the City 2" (2010), and was the subject of a team project on a 10th season episode of "The Apprentice" (NBC, 2004- ). Minnelli fans of a younger vintage were overjoyed when it was announced that "Arrested Development" (Netflix, 2013- ) would return for a fourth season to be aired on Netflix¿s live-streaming application. With her recurring character of grand dame Lucille Austero promoted to regular player, Minnelli was slated to join original cast members Jason Bateman, Jessica Walter, Will Arnett and Jeffrey Tambor for fans hoped would be a precursor to a feature adaptation of the acclaimed comedy.
By Susan Clarketer Allen that year hinted that, like Garland, there was a troubled, vulnerable soul beneath that flamboyant exterior; one that hoped the next standing ovation would obliterate the personal pain. If a high-octane performance could not fix it, perhaps another drink could. Minnelli openly discussed addiction and depression issues as they advanced and retreated throughout her life.
In 1974, Minnelli took her one-woman show "Liza" to Broadway and released an accompanying album, Liza Minnelli, Live at the Wintergarden. She replaced an ailing Gwen Verdon in Kander and Ebb's "Chicago" on Broadway, di
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