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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 15:02 GMT
Minnelli's turbulent times
Liza Minnelli
Minnelli has amassed a loyal fanbase
Singer and actress Liza Minnelli is in the limelight once again - this time for her marriage to producer David Gest. BBC News Online looks back at her life and career.

Liza Minnelli's showbusiness career began aged two, with a role in her mother, Judy Garland's film In The Good Old Summertime.

This taste of stardom at such a young age set Minnelli on course for a career to rival those of her parents, both of whom won Oscars.

Garland famously starred in The Wizard of Oz and Easter Parade, and her then husband, Vincente Minnelli, directed An American in Paris, Gigi and Garland's own star-vehicle, Meet Me in St Louis.

Liza Minnelli
She won her Oscar in 1972
Minnelli won her own Oscar for her role in Cabaret, and also stacked up three Tonys and an Emmy.

She was also hailed as one of the last great practitioners of the American music-hall tradition.

Liza Minnelli was born in 1946, and the first visitor to the hospital was none other than Frank Sinatra, with whom she would later sing at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

She attended more than 20 schools, but also spent time at MGM studios with her parents and danced with her mother on Broadway.

Minnelli's parents divorced when she was just five years old.

Minnelli
Minnelli has sung throughout her career
But they continued to encourage her career and she released her first album Liza, Liza in 1964, and appeared with her mother at the London Palladium.

Minnelli's singing talent rivalled her mother's and she made her cabaret debut the following year.

She also won her first Tony for her role as Flora, The Red Menace and appeared in her first major part in the British film Charlie Bubbles.

Drug addiction

But although her career was taking off, her home-life was struggling and Minnelli was looking after her mother, who was battling her addiction to drugs.

Garland died of an overdose in 1969, and just as Minnelli's career matched her mother's, so did her difficulties with drink and drugs.

Minnelli and Sinatra
She sang with Sinatra at the Albert Hall
Liza Minnelli's career peaked in 1972, with the lead role of Sally Bowles in the movie, Cabaret.

Based on Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories, the film gave Minnelli the chance to display the full range of her acting and singing ability.

The role of the emotionally needy socialite earned Minnelli an Academy Award for best actress, and mirrored the actress's own erratic career and turbulent personal life.

But it was to be another nine years before she had another box-office success, co-starring with Dudley Moore in the 1981 film Arthur.

Before this, flops as Lucky Lady (1975), and even the Scorsese-directed New York New York (1977), sent Minnelli back to Broadway and then on to the road.

Liza Minnelli
Minnelli has been dogged by health problems for a number of years
In 1985, her triumphant 27-city comeback concert tour included a return to the London Palladium, but Minnelli's career was hampered in later years by physical suffering.

She had operations on both her vocal chords and hip, as well as a spell in the Betty Ford Clinic.

Like her mother, the strength of her performances became increasingly compromised by her dependence on drugs, ill health and emotional instability.

Minnelli's private life was also suffering - she was married and divorced three times.

David Gest
David Gest: Described by Minnelli as "inspirational"
But by 1989 she was performing in the Albert Hall with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr, and 10 years later she was playing a Broadway tour.

She is also optimistic about her fourth marriage to David Gest, who she credits as helping her recover from encephalitis.

And in true showbiz style, the couple will be flanked at the ceremony by singer Michael Jackson and actress Dame Elizabeth Taylor.

It looks like Minnelli is not ready to step out of the spotlight just yet.

See also:

15 Mar 02 | Film
Filmography: Liza Minnelli
22 Jan 02 | Showbiz
Minnelli to play Albert Hall
10 Dec 01 | Showbiz
All-star wedding for Minnelli
23 Nov 01 | Showbiz
Minnelli to wed for fourth time
31 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Minnelli leaves hospital
23 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Minnelli recovering from brain disease
01 Jul 99 | Entertainment
'Big Voice' Liza's comeback
08 Sep 01 | Music
Jackson reunion show dazzles
Links to more Showbiz stories are at the foot of the page.


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