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Monday, 23 October, 2000, 18:58 GMT 19:58 UK
Minnelli recovering from brain disease
Liza Minnelli
Minnelli: The singer and actress won an Oscar in 1972
Oscar-winning actress and singer Liza Minnelli has been treated in hospital for a potentially fatal brain disease.

The Cleveland Clinic, Florida, confirmed Ms Minnelli is suffering from viral encephalitis - an inflammation of the brain caused by a virus.

The hospital said that the singer had been in a "very serious condition" but was now improving and was expected to be discharged in a few days.

Minnelli was taken to hospital after reportedly collapsing at her home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

We request that you respect Ms Minnelli's rights as a patient and allow her the privacy she deserves

Dr Maurice Hanson

Minnelli, 54, was treated for the disease two weeks ago and had been released from the hospital.

"She then became dehydrated and returned to the hospital a few days ago," Dr Maurice Hanson said.

"She was quite sick and was in a very serious condition but is now recovering well and we expect to release her in a few days."

He refused to give details about the celebrity's treatment.

"We request that you respect Ms Minnelli's rights as a patient and allow her the privacy she deserves," Dr Hanson said.

"I have spoken with Ms Minnelli and she wishes to thank you for your care and concern."

A local Florida newspaper had earlier speculated that the singer and actress had suffered a stroke.

The New York Post quoted her half-sister Lorna Luft as saying: "She is in the hospital, that's all I can say."

Minnelli, the daughter of Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli, won an Oscar in 1972 for her role in Cabaret.

'Cancelled tour'

According to reports, Minnelli collapsed on 8 October and emergency services were called by her chauffeur Mohamed Soumayah.

"We found her semi-conscious on the floor, disoriented and suffering from what we believe was a possible stroke," Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue chief Stephen McInerny is quoted in the town's Sun-Sentinel newspaper.

The officer said her symptoms included paralysis on one side of her body.

Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz
Minnelli's life has mirrored that of her mother Judy Garland
Minnelli was reportedly discharged eight days after first being admitted, only to be readmitted on 21 October. This was neither confirmed or denied by hospital authorities.

Her chauffeur told reporters that Minnelli had been admitted to the clinic because of problems with her hips.

The singer had cancelled a tour in April because of hip problems and has twice had surgery on her right hip.

Liza Minnelli has always lived in the shadow of her mother and in many ways their lives have been mirrors of each other: Minnelli has struggled just as Judy Garland did with drugs and drink.

The BBC's Louise Bevan
"Millions of fans will be hoping she can pull herself back to full health"
See also:

01 Jul 99 | Entertainment
'Big Voice' Liza's comeback
24 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Filmography: Liza Minnelli
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