Liza Minnelli, winner of four Tony Awards, an Oscar, a special “Legends” Grammy, two Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy, is one of the entertainment world’s consummate performers. In film, on stage and in television, Liza has won critical acclaim, a multitude of fans, and recognition from her peers in show business, giving new dimension and credibility to the word “superstar.”
Liza was born on March 12, 1946, in Los Angeles, California, to actress/singer Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli, responsible for such classics as “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “An American in Paris.”
Considered one of America’s true legends, Liza began her professional career at an early age, 16, in 1963, in an Off-Broadway revival of the musical “Best Foot Forward,” for which she received rapturous notices and her first award, the Theatre World Award. It would be the first among many show business honors.
Liza turned to Broadway at age 19, and in 1965 became the youngest woman ever to win a leading actress Tony Award for “Flora the Red Menace.” Over the years, Liza’s other Broadway appearances have been memorable. In 1975 her enormous strength and talent were put to the test when she agreed to replace an ailing Gwen Verdon in the Broadway run of Kander and Ebb’s “Chicago.” With only one-week’s rehearsal, and no public announcement, Liza played to sold-out audiences for a period of five weeks. In 1984, Liza reunited with her “Chicago” co-star Chita Rivera in the Kander and Ebb musical “The Rink.” The musical garnered Liza a Best Actress Tony nomination. In 1997, Liza took over from an ailing Julie Andrews in Broadway’s “Victor/Victoria.”
A special Tony was awarded to Liza for breaking the box-office record at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1973 for her one-woman show. In 1977, she returned to the Broadway stage in a starring role in the Kander and Ebb musical, “The Act” for which she was awarded her third Tony. The musical was directed by Martin Scorsese, who had just directed Liza on the big screen in “New York, New York” opposite Robert DeNiro.
She had been seen earlier on movie screens in films that showcased her superb acting abilities, including her first film role opposite Albert Finney in “Charlie Bubbles,” followed by “The Sterile Cuckoo,” which won Liza her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
In 1972 her movie career peaked when she played Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.” The film won eight Oscars, including Best Actress for Liza. The role also earned her a Golden Globe and a British Film Academy Award. The unqualified success of “Cabaret” put Liza on the covers of both Time and Newsweek in the same week.
In 1981, she co-starred with Dudley Moore on the big screen in the classic “Arthur,” going on to make the sequel “Arthur 2” in 1988.
Liza starred in the first concert ever filmed live for television in 1972. The seminal “Liza with a Z” produced a Top 20 album and won the Emmy for Outstanding Single Program and the prestigious Peabody Award. It has been released in recent years on DVD and aired on Showtime.
In between her many TV and film roles, Liza has never stopped touring and has long been considered one of the most exciting concert performers, electrifying audiences around the world and setting records at the most prestigious venues, from the Palladium in London and Opera House in Sydney, to the Olympia Theatre in Paris and New York’s historic Carnegie Hall, where one of Liza’s greatest triumphs was her unprecedented three-week concert engagement in 1987. Liza was the first entertainer in the hall’s history to completely sell-out three weeks of appearances. She had earlier appeared in concert at Carnegie Hall in 1979. This appearance was every bit as unforgettable. On closing night the police had to disperse the crowd when they refused to leave the auditorium following multiple encores. Both of these concerts were recorded and are among the music industry’s most highly praised live concert recordings.Liza emerged as a dramatic television actress in the made-for-TV drama, “A Time to Live,” where she starred in the touching story as the mother of a child with muscular dystrophy. The role won Liza her second Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and universal acclaim from television critics and writers around the world.
One of the greatest and most acclaimed show business triumphs of all time was Liza’s record-setting in-concert engagement at Manhattan’s famed Radio City Music Hall in 1991, where Liza played to packed houses for three weeks, followed by a return engagement. The show was called, “Stepping Out,” after Liza’s film of the same name, which was released around the same time. She stunned audiences around the world, including London’s legendary Royal Albert Hall, with the sold-out show.
Liza returned to Broadway in December 1999 to pay tribute to her father in a show called “Minnelli on Minnelli” at New York’s Palace Theater. Shortly after the CD of “Minnelli on Minnelli” was released in February 2000, Liza was hospitalized for encephalitis. The prognosis was grim: she was told she would never walk, talk, dance or sing again. But Liza’s incredible will, determination and relentless hard work proved the doctors wrong, and by June 2002, she was back on stage at the Beacon Theater in New York. Her triumphant comeback CD entitled “Liza’s Back!” was released in October 2002, and she was seen the following year as Lucille Austero on TV’s critically acclaimed “Arrested Development.”
Liza made a triumphant return to Broadway in 2008 with “Liza’s at the Palace …” which went on to win the Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event. It’s Liza’s fourth Tony. She recreated the show at the MGM Grand where her performance was filmed for a public television special and a DVD. The show’s cast recording was nominated for a Grammy Award.
In 2010, following a much talked about cameo in “Sex and the City 2,” Liza released “Confessions,” which was recorded with her longtime collaborator pianist Billy Stritch. The CD debuted to great reviews.
Throughout her lifetime Liza has supported various charities and causes. She served on the board of directors of The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential for 20 years. She also has dedicated much time to amFAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. 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 hundreds of thousands in Central Park at the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
Today, when her busy schedule allows, she works with students at The Actor’s Studio teaching master classes in acting and singing. Her well-known generosity of spirit, enthusiasm and commitment to her craft are unequaled in the entertainment industry, where she continues her extraordinary career with ongoing concert tours around the world.