With a career spanning seven decades, Liza Minnelli is one of America’s most accomplished and iconic performers. From Carnegie Hall concerts and Broadway shows to Academy Award-winning films and everything in between, this legendary EGOT (more on that in a minute) has done it all. But is Liza Minnelli still alive? And if so, is she healthy and still performing? Here’s a close look at Liza Minnelli today, as well as an overview of her incredible career.
Liza Minnelli Was Born In 1946
To answer the first question right off the bat—yes, Liza Minnelli is still alive! Her birthday is March 12, 1946, and she’ll be turning 76 this year. Luckily for Liza, she was born with a natural talent for performing—her mother was legendary singer and screen actress Judy Garland (think The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me in St. Louis) and her father was stage and film director Vincente Minnelli. While Garland and Minnelli split up when Liza was still a kid, she was heavily influenced by both of her parents and often performed with her mother.
In fact, Minnelli has said that being the daughter of Judy Garland was a big challenge when she started carving out her own career path. “The hardest part was getting to be known as myself as opposed to somebody’s daughter,” Minnelli revealed in a 2020 interview with Variety. “I remember Mama saying, ‘Now don’t get upset because of the way they may compare you to me because you’re an entertainer too.’ I said, ‘Oh, I won’t.’ And then she reads something where they compared me to her. She said, ‘How dare they? You’re your own woman. Dammit! Can’t they see?’ And she’d throw it down in the trash. She was wonderful and so overprotective. She tried saving us from any of the stuff that other people said, except the great stuff.”
Her Career Began Over 60 Years Ago
Despite those early comparisons, it didn’t take long for Minnelli to break out of her famous mother’s shadow. In 1965, when Minnelli was just 19-years-old, she won a Tony Award for Best Actress for her performance in the musical, Flora, the Red Menace. At the time, she was the youngest recipient of the esteemed theater trophy. After that show’s run, she began touring around the country as a singer while also starting to take on roles in films such as Charlie Bubbles, Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, and The Sterile Cuckoo, for which she earned her first Oscar nomination.
But her breakout big-screen success came in 1972 when she starred as Sally Bowles in the musical Cabaret. The performance won Minnelli an Academy Award for Best Actress, which came as a complete shock to the rising star. “I didn’t think I was going to win,” she said in her interview with Variety. “I hadn’t planned [an acceptance speech]. If you plan something and then it doesn’t happen, then you’re disappointed. I asked my dad, ‘What should I say if I win?’ And he said, ‘You’ll know what to say.’ I said, ‘OK,’ and off we went. When [Gene Hackman, who was presenting with Raquel Welch] said my name, my father screamed and he gave me tinnitus. I had tinnitus because of the way my father screamed at the Oscars, honestly.”
In addition to winning her first Oscar, Minnelli’s performance as the sexy and sultry Sally Bowles cemented her status as both a big-screen superstar and a style icon. Minnelli continued to perform on stage, including a Tony-winning solo engagement on Broadway, and made appearances in movies such as New York, New York, Arthur, and Arthur 2: On the Rocks. She also snagged an Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Special for her made-for-TV concert, Liza With a Z.
Minnelli is among a minority of performers who’ve reached EGOT status, which means she’s won all four major awards—Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Her 1990 Grammy win was in a special category that honored her overall breadth of work—the Grammy Legend Award. Other EGOT winners include Audrey Hepburn, Mel Brooks, James Earl Jones, Barbra Streisand, and John Legend.
Is She Still Acting Today?
Minelli’s last recurring gig was on the TV show Arrested Development. She played the vertigo-plagued Lucille Austero during the show’s original run in the mid-2000s and returned for its first follow-up in 2013. That same year, she paired up with Alan Cumming for a two-night engagement at Town Hall on Broadway. But since then, Minnelli has remained outside of the spotlight. In her February 2020 interview with Variety, she did say she was interested in acting again, though nothing has materialized over the past two years, which may be due to COVID-19.
But she hasn’t stopped working altogether. Recently, Minnelli announced her contribution to a Gershwin compilation album. In a Facebook post promoting the release, Minnelli wrote: “I’m so thrilled to be part of my baby, Michael Feinstein’s brand-new album GERSHWIN COUNTRY, which celebrates and reimagines the iconic Gershwin songbook through the contemporary lens of country music. It was an honor to be executive producer on the project, which features some incredible voices including Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, Brad Paisley, Rosanne Cash, and many more. I also had the honor of performing my Father’s favorite song—the timeless “Embraceable You”—with Michael.”
The one thing Minnelli made sure she wasn’t involved in was the 2018 biopic of her mother, Judy, starring Renee Zellweger. After reports surfaced that Minnelli was a part of the production and had been working closely with Zellweger, the Cabaret star made it clear that this wasn’t the case. “I have never met nor spoken to Renee Zellweger,” Minnelli wrote on her Facebook page. “I don’t know how these stories get started, but I do not approve nor sanction the upcoming film about Judy Garland in any way. Any reports to the contrary are 100% fiction.”
Is She Still In Good Health?
Minnelli’s health has been a topic of concern for her fans for many years. The star has been open about her lifelong struggle with alcohol and substance misuse and did seek treatment at a rehab in 2015. It appears that she’s remained sober since.
Rumors surfaced in 2018 that the star was struggling with health issues, but longtime friend and collaborator, Michael Feinstein, set the record straight in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter while discussing a show they were getting ready for. “She’s feeling very good now and we both are very excited about this show because it will be the first time that she’s done anything where she’s appeared in a casual setting, singing songs extemporaneously and taking questions from the audience.”
Feinstein added that Minnelli’s minimized performances have less to do with her health and more to do with simply wanting to take a break from working. “It’s not that it’s too exhausting. It’s that she’s done it for 60 years and she’s at a point now where she’s actually taking time to relax and enjoy her life,” Feinstein explained.
In 2021, Minnelli addressed health rumors once again, taking to her Facebook page to debunk an upcoming article from The National Enquirer claiming she was unwell. “Hey Kids! On the heels of my swell birthday celebrations with close friends, I have heard that the National Enquirer (whose circulation must be down) intends to post another absurd story about me. They always quote an anonymous “close friend” but never ever actually quote any of my real friends by name in any of their stories because they might get the truth. Please look at my recent Instagram/Facebook posts and tell me if you think I’m in bad shape, or not well and isolated from my friends.”
Minnelli’s surprise appearance at the 94th Academy Awards ceremony in March 2022 also sparked concerns for her well-being. Twitter users and other media outlets suggested the Cabaret star looked frail as she used a wheelchair to get around while presenting the award for Best Picture with Lady Gaga.
This isn’t the first time Minnelli was required to use a wheelchair. After her diagnosis of viral encephalitis in 2000, her doctors warned that she may have to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Thankfully, Minnelli was able to recover. She’s also had issues with her spine and even broke her lower back in 2014.
While we don’t have the full scoop as to why she’s currently using a wheelchair, the entertainment legend seems to be in good spirits!