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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 October, 2003, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Liza and David's tantrums and tiaras
Liza Minnelli and David Gest
Minnelli and Gest split in July
Liza Minnelli's estranged husband David Gest is taking her to court for $10m (5.9m) after saying she threw a lamp at him and beat him in drunken rages.

The details of the couple's alleged fights during their 16 months of marriage are yet another twist in a relationship that has hit headlines around the globe.

Minnelli, star of Cabaret and daughter of screen legend Judy Garland, had already been married three times before meeting concert producer Gest.

At the end of the 1990s, she battled drastic health, voice and weight problems, being confined to a wheelchair and suffering from the brain disease viral encephalitis.

But she met Gest - who collects Garland memorabilia - at Michael Jackson's comeback concert in 2001, and their relationship blossomed.

Liza Minnelli in wheelchair
Minnelli battled health and weight problems in the 1990s and early 2000s
Minnelli seemed to have begun a new, prosperous chapter in her life.

"David inspired me," she said, putting her return to health down to his support.

They wed in March 2002 in New York, with Michael Jackson as the best man and Dame Elizabeth Taylor the maid of honour.

The ceremony also brought former soap actress Martine McCutcheon, singer Donny Osmond, comic Graham Norton and screen legend Mickey Rooney together.

The couple went on honeymoon to London, where Minnelli was due to start her European tour - but while she was travelling in a cab she was the victim of attempted robbery.

Thieves tried to snatch a 10,000 diamond necklace from her through an open window of the car.

Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson at the wedding
Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson were at the wedding
But she said afterwards: "I'm feeling great, I feel fine. I'm having a great time in London."

The tour started to rave reviews - and the London programme notes said the couple were planning move to Paris, where they would adopt children during the following 12 months.

But at the same time, they got news from home that Minnelli's 94-year-old stepmother was taking legal action against them.

Lee Anderson Minnelli claimed she was kept "alone in a dark house" while Minnelli and Gest were on their honeymoon.

Lee Minnelli said her stepdaughter sold the home where she was living, cut the electricity and wanted to remove her "by whatever means necessary".

Gest denied abuse and Lee Minnelli dropped the case the following month because she "loved" her stepdaughter.

Minnelli on stage in London
Minnelli went on tour two weeks after getting married
Minnelli told her: "I'm so glad you're not suing me mummy," after persuading her not to go to court.

The next story to come out of the couple's camp was about a plan for an Osbournes-style reality TV show about their home life.

It was to feature dinner parties with their fabulous friends, and Minnelli would perform duets with guests like Dr Dre, Mary J Blige, Usher, Alan Jackson and Al Green.

But producers of the planned VH1 show pulled the plug after just three weeks of filming amid bitter accusations and lawsuits on both sides.

VH1 accused Gest of being "unprofessional, erratic and deceitful" and painted him as a control freak who wanted to restrict filming and stop crew members from sitting on their furniture.

At the same time, the couple were in the process of adopting a child, three-year-old Serena.

Liza Minnelli and David Gest
The couple appeared to have shared happier times earlier on
"When one has been through a lot and learned something along the way," Minnelli said of her own upbringing, "hopefully the least you can do is to pass it on to an innocent child who need parents because they have lost theirs."

But then in March 2003, the couple cancelled their lavish first wedding anniversary party - blaming the war in Iraq.

And news surfaced that the singer and actress had been admitted to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation unit for an eight-week "self-help" programme.

But the couple were together for Gest's 50th birthday party in London in May, where they were followed for a Ruby Wax TV show, during which he was seen buying her an 82,000 diamond Cartier necklace from Harrods.

In the spotlight

But the show was described as "a freak show, a horror movie, a hazard to your mental health" by one critic.

He was "full of bravura" while she looked like "a rabbit on crack", The Guardian's Gareth McLean wrote, and together they were "like Chihuahuas fighting in a sack".

But despite their united front, the pair confirmed their split just days after the show was broadcast, with some blaming his controlling tendencies and others her drug problems.

Now, with his lawsuit against her claiming she battered him, it looks like they are going to be in the spotlight for some time to come.




SEE ALSO:
Gest sues Minnelli over 'abuse'
22 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
Minnelli has 'no plans to divorce'
29 Jul 03  |  Entertainment
Minnelli goes back into rehab
21 Mar 03  |  Entertainment
Minnelli sues over cancelled TV show
18 Dec 02  |  Entertainment
Minnelli 'abuse' case dropped
14 May 02  |  Entertainment
Minnelli's turbulent times
15 Mar 02  |  Entertainment



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