Already established as a nightclub singer and musical theatre actress, she first attracted critical acclaim for her dramatic performances in the movies The Sterile Cuckoo (1969) and Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970). Minnelli rose to international stardom for her appearance as Sally Bowles in the 1972 film version of the Broadway musical, Cabaret, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.
While film projects such as Lucky Lady, A Matter of Time and New York, New York were less favorably received than her stage roles, Minnelli became one of the most versatile, highly regarded and best-selling entertainers in television, beginning with Liza with a Z in 1972, and on stage in the Broadway productions of Flora the Red Menace, The Act and The Rink. Minnelli also toured internationally and did shows such as Liza Minnelli: At Carnegie Hall, Frank, Liza & Sammy: The Ultimate Event, and Liza Live from Radio City Music Hall.
1981 “All That Jazz”
After years of chronic health problems, including a serious infection with viral encephalitis, she returned with a new concert show, Liza’s Back, in 2002. She did several well-received guest appearances in the sitcom Arrested Development and had a small role in the movie The OH in Ohio, while continuing to tour internationally. In 2008/09 she performed the Broadway show Liza’s at The Palace…! which earned a Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event.
Judy and Liza
Minnelli has won a total of four Tony Awards awards, including a Special Tony Award,. She has also won an Oscar, an Emmy Award, two Golden Globes and a Grammy Legend Award for her contributions and influence in the recording field, along with many other honors and awards.
Liza Minnelli was born in Hollywood, California to Vincente Minnelli and Judy Garland. Born into a family well known to film-goers, Minnelli’s maternal lineage can claim entertainers going back six generations. Her mother, Judy Garland, had legendary success in film and in music, but started in show-business as part of a vaudeville act with Minnelli’s aunts as “The Gumm Sisters”. Her father, an acclaimed MGM film director, was from a theatrical family which also included circus performers.
Minnelli attended New York City’s Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. Her first performing experience on film was at age three where she appeared in the final scene of the 1949 musical In the Good Old Summertime. The film starred Judy Garland and Van Johnson. Although Minnelli and her mother shared a warm personal relationship, during her performances with her mother at the London Palladium, Garland recognized Minnelli’s talent and felt a sense of competition. Minnelli recalled, “I was onstage with my mother, but suddenly, she wasn’t Mama … she was Judy Garland.”
Judy and Liza again – “Let Me Entertain You”
Minnelli’s half-sister and brother from Garland’s marriage to Sid Luft are Lorna and Joey Luft. She also has another half-sister, Christiane Nina Minnelli (nicknamed Tina Nina), from her father’s second marriage. Minnelli began performing professionally at age 17, in 1963, in an Off-Broadway revival of the musical Best Foot Forward, for which she received good notices, and her first award, the Theatre World Award. The next year, her mother invited Minnelli to perform with her at the London Palladium. The audience loved her, launching her future concert career. She turned to Broadway at 19, and in 1965 she became the youngest woman ever to win a leading actress Tony Award for Flora the Red Menace. It was the first time she worked with the musical duo John Kander and Fred Ebb (who would later write almost all of Liza’s trademark tunes). 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.. She later appeared 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 recording several albums at 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 that she starred in. 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.
Liza wins the Academy Award
From 1968 up to the 1970s, she also recorded more contemporary material according to classic pop songs with her albums Liza Minnelli (1968), Come Saturday Morning and New Feelin’ (both 1970) from A&M Records and The Singer (1973), which seemed like a compilation of soft rock material, as well as the disco-styled Tropical Nights (1977) from Columbia Records. Her music career was more influenced by successful live performances with international concert tours than commercial success as a recording artist.
“Some People” from Gypsy
In 1989 Minnelli collaborated with Pet Shop Boys on Results, an electronic dance-style album. Therelease hit the top 10 in the UK and also charted in the US, spawning four singles: Losing My Mind, Don’t Drop Bombs, So Sorry, I Said and Love Pains. This also gave her a chance to film promotional videos for the songs and resulted in a long-overdue comeback in the music business. Initially released on VHS titled Visible Results, the clips were later issued on a bonus DVD included in the 2005 remastered and expanded edition of the album. Later that year she performed Losing My Mind live at the Grammys ceremony before receiving a Grammy Legend Award (the first Grammy Legend Awards were issued in 1990 to Liza Minnelli, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Smokey Robinson and Willie Nelson). With this award, she became one of only 12 other entertainers, in a list that includes Whoopi Goldberg, Barbra Streisand and Mel Brooks among others, to win an Emmy, Grammy, Tony Award and Academy Award.
2008 – “New York New York”
In 1996, Minnelli released a new studio album titled Gently. It was a recording of jazz standards and also included some 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. Liza 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.
On 11 May 2010, Playbill.com reported Minnelli would be releasing an album entitled “Confessions”, with a release date of 21 September 2010 on the Decca Label.
In 1969 she appeared in Alan J. Pakula‘s first feature film, The Sterile Cuckoo (1969), as “Pookie Adams”, a needy, eccentric teenager. Her performance won her her first Academy Award nomination. She played another eccentric character the following year in Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, directed by Otto Preminger. In 1972, Minnelli appeared in perhaps her best-known film role, as “Sally Bowles” in the movie version of Cabaret. She said that one of the things she did to prepare was to study photographs of classic actresses Louise Glaum and Louise Brooks and the dark-haired ladies of that time. Minnelli won the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance, along with a Golden Globe Award.
Following the success of Cabaret, Bob Fosse and Minnelli teamed up for Liza with a ‘Z’. A Concert for Television, a made-for-television special. The program aired two times on TV and was not seen until a DVD release in 2006.
Minnelli worked with her father, director Vincente Minnelli, in the 1976 A Matter of Time, co-starring Ingrid Bergman. After severe editing and cutting, done by the studio, with no input from Vincente Minnelli, the film was neither a commercial nor a critical success.
“Bye Bye Blackbird”
Her appearance opposite Robert De Niro in the 1977 musical drama film, New York, New York however, gave Minnelli her best known signature song. Frank Sinatra released a successful cover version (for his Trilogy: Past Present Future album) two years later and used it as his signature song as well, sometimes even duetting with Liza live on stage.
“Don’t Smoke In Bed”
After her performance as leading lady to Dudley Moore in 1981’s hit film Arthur, Minnelli made fewer film appearances although she returned to the big screen in 1991 for Stepping Out, a musical dramedy.
She 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 commented, “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.”
1981 on the Tonight Show singing… what else? “New York New York
After a serious case of viral encephalitis in 2000, doctors predicted that she would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair and would perhaps not even be able to speak again. However, she refused to accept this and with the help of vocal and dance lessons, which she still takes daily, managed to recover and returned to the stage Liza’s Back in 2002 performing to rave reviews in London and New York City. Her first performance after beginning her treatment was at Madison Square Garden in New York city where she sang You Are Not Alone at the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special concert.
In 2004 and 2005 she appeared as a recurring character on the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning TV sitcom Arrested Development as “Lucille Austero”, the lover of both the sexually and socially awkward “Buster Bluth” and Buster’s brother “GOB”.
Liza on “Arrested Development”
In September 2006, she made a guest appearance on the long-running NBC drama Law & Order: Criminal Intent, in Masquerade, a Halloween-themed episode, broadcast on Tuesday, October 31, 2006. She 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.
2009 at Paris Gay Pride Parade
For years, Liza had wanted to record a collection of songs that her godmother Kay Thompson had performed in her nightclub act. In 2007 Liza added some of Thompson’s songs to her latest tour to introduce them to audiences.
Minnelli returned to Broadway in a new solo concert at the Palace Theatre called 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—from first to last, Minnelli had audiences cheering and applauding and begging for more. The show was subsequently staged at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on September 30 and 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 cameo on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, playing the best friend of “Penelope” (Kristin Wiig). On January 26, 2009, she made an appearance on The View, singing I Would Never Leave You from her new CD Liza’s at The Palace…!. She was also interviewed by the cast of The View.
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.
Minnelli made a cameo appearance in the May 2010 release of Sex and the City 2.
She has made many notable public performances of her signature song, New York, New York:
- At the 1978 Studio 54 party honoring New York City’s revival, at which a guest was Mayor Ed Koch;
- The reopening of the Statue of Liberty on July 4, 1986 (this performance of New York, New York is generally felt to be among the strongest of her career);
- As a duet with Luciano Pavarotti at the 1996 Pavarotti & Friends for War Child concert in Modena, Italy;
- At a 2001 New York Mets baseball game that was the metro area’s first major sporting event after the September 11 attacks;
- For the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular televised live, and nationally on NBC on July 4, 2006, she performed the song and received an ovation.
- In February 2008, she performed the song at a televised celebration of Bruce Forsyth‘s 80th birthday celebration on BBC.
- In June 2008, at the Opening Night at the Hollywood Bowl where she was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame.
- On October 2, 2008, at Trevi Fountain in Rome to promote her next tour of Italy.
Minnelli has been married (and divorced) four times. Her first marriage was to Peter Allen (full name Peter Allen Woolnough) on March 3, 1967. Australian-born Allen was Judy Garland‘s protégé in the mid-1960s. The couple divorced on July 24, 1974. Later that year, she married Jack Haley Jr., a producer and director, on September 15, 1974. His father, Jack Haley, was Garland’s co-star in The Wizard of Oz. They divorced in April 1979.
Minnelli was married to Mark Gero, a sculptor and stage manager, from December 4, 1979 until their divorce in January 1992.
Minnelli and her parents are the only family in the history of the Academy Awards in which each member has won an award. Minnelli has, throughout her lifetime, served various charities and causes which she considers very important. She served on the board of directors of The Institutes for The Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP) for 20 years, a nonprofit educational organization that introduces parents to the field of child brain development. She also dedicated much time to amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. In 2007, Minnelli stated in an interview with Palm Springs Life magazine, “AmfAR is important to me because I’ve lost so many friends that I knew [to AIDS]”. In 1994, Minnelli recorded the Kander & Ebb tune “The Day After That” and donated the proceeds to AIDS research. That same year she performed the song in front of thousands in Central Park at the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
With Alan Cumming, “Baby Its Cold Outside”
During the early days of Television in the 1950s Liza appeared as a child guest on Art Linkletter‘s show and in 1959 sang and danced with Gene Kelly on his first television special. She was a guest star in one episode of the popular Ben Casey television series starring Vince Edwards 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 including The Ed Sullivan Show, The Hollywood Palace, as well as 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 CBS series, Mr. Broadway.
“Every Time We Say Goodbye”
Recently, Minnelli has made guest appearances on such shows as Arrested Development, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Drop Dead Diva. In the UK she has appeared on the Ruby Wax, Graham Norton and Jonathan Ross shows and in October 2006 participated in a comedy skit on the Charlotte Church Show and was featured on the Michael Parkinson Show. Set to be a guest judge on Australian Idol 2009 on the 18th of October 2009. Appeared on The Joy Behar Show on September 1 2010.
“Never Never Land / Over The Rainbow”
In November 2009, American Public Television aired “Liza’s at the Palace”, taped from September 30-October 1, 2009 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theatre. The executive producers of the taping, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, previously were involved with the 2005 re-release of 1972’s Emmy and Peabody Award winning “Liza with a ‘Z'”.
|1949||In the Good Old Summertime||Baby||uncredited|
|1954||The Long, Long Trailer||Wedding Guest||scenes deleted|
|1969||The Sterile Cuckoo||‘Pookie’ (Mary Ann) Adams||David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actress
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Mar del Plata Film Festival Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
|1970||Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon||Junie Moon|
|1972||Cabaret||Sally Bowles||Academy Award for Best Actress
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Sant Jordi Award for Best Performance in a Foreign Film
|1974||Just One More Time||Herself||uncredited (short subject)|
|That’s Entertainment!||Herself (narrator)|
|Journey Back to Oz||Dorothy||voice|
|1975||Lucky Lady||Claire||Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy|
|A Matter of Time||Nina|
|1977||New York, New York||Francine Evans||Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy|
|1981||Arthur||Linda Marolla||Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy|
|1983||The King of Comedy||Herself||appears in gag cardboard cutout|
|1984||The Muppets Take Manhattan||Herself|
|1985||That’s Dancing!||Herself – Host|
|1987||Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night||voice|
|1988||Arthur 2: On the Rocks||Linda Marolla Bach|
|1991||Stepping Out||Mavis Turner|
|1994||A Century of Cinema||Herself||documentary|
|1995||Unzipped||Herself – uncredited||documentary|
|2006||The OH in Ohio||Alyssa Donahue|
|2010||Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age||Herself||documentary|
|Film Sequel To (Sex And The City)
Soundtracks and cast recordings
Awards and honors
Minnelli has the distinction of being the only Academy Award winner whose parents were both Academy Award winners (her father won as Best Director for Gigi and her mother received an honorary Oscar for The Wizard of Oz).
Independent Theatre Reviewers Association