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About Lester Anthony Minnelli
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Vincente Minnelli was an American film director and stage director. He was married to Judy Garland from 1945 until 1951; they were the parents of Liza Minnelli.
Born as Lester Anthony Minnelli on February 28, 1903 in Chicago, he was the youngest of four known sons, only two of whom survived to adulthood, born to Marie Émilie Odile Lebeau (stage name: Mina Gennell) and Vincent Charles Minnelli. His father was musical conductor of Minnelli Brothers' Tent Theater. Minnelli's Chicago-born mother was of French Canadian descent with a strong probability of Native American lineage included and his paternal grandfather was from Sicily. The family toured small towns primarily in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois before settling permanently in Delaware, Ohio.
Following his high school graduation, Minnelli moved to Chicago where he lived briefly with his grandmother and an aunt. His first job was at Marshall Field's department store as a window display designer. He later worked as a photographer for Paul Stone, who specialized in photographing actors from Chicago's theater district. His interest in the theater grew and he was greatly interested in art and immersed himself in books on the subject.
Minnelli's first job in the theater was at the Chicago Theatre where he worked as a costume and set designer. Owned by Balaban and Katz, the theater chain soon merged with a bigger national chain of Paramount-Publix and Minnelli sometimes found himself assigned to work on shows in New York City. He soon left Chicago and rented a tiny Greenwich Village apartment. He was eventually employed at Radio City Music Hall as a set designer and worked his way up to stage director.
The first play Minnelli directed was a musical revue titled At Home Abroad which opened in October 1935 and starred Beatrice Lillie, Ethel Waters, and Eleanor Powell. The revue was well received and enjoyed a two year run. Minnelli later worked on The Ziegfeld Follies of 1936, Hooray for What!, Very Warm for May, and The Show is On. Minnelli's reputation grew and he was offered a job at MGM in 1940 by producer Arthur Freed.
With his background in theatre, Minnelli was known as an auteur who always brought his stage experience to his films. The first movie that he directed, Cabin in the Sky (1943), was visibly influenced by the theater. Shortly after that, he directed Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), during which he fell in love with the film's star, Judy Garland. The two had first met on the set of Strike Up the Band (1940), a Busby Berkeley film for which Minnelli was asked to design a musical sequence performed by Garland and Mickey Rooney. The two began a courtship that eventually led to their marriage in June 1945. Their one child together, Liza Minnelli, grew up to become an Academy Award-winning singer and actress.
Though widely known for directing musicals, including An American in Paris (1951), Brigadoon (1954), Kismet (1955), and Gigi (1958) he also helmed comedies and melodramas, including Madame Bovary (1949), Father of the Bride (1950), Designing Woman (1957) and The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963). His last film was A Matter of Time (1976). During the course of his career he directed seven different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Spencer Tracy, Gloria Grahame, Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, Arthur Kennedy, Shirley MacLaine and Martha Hyer. Grahame and Quinn won Oscars for their performances in one of Minnelli's movies. He received an Oscar nomination as Best Director for An American in Paris (1951) and later won the Best Director Oscar for Gigi (1958). He was awarded France's highest civilian honor, the Commander Nationale of the Legion of Honor, only weeks before his death in 1986.
Minnelli's critical reputation has known a certain amount of fluctuation, being admired (or dismissed) in America as a "pure stylist" who, in Andrew Sarris' words, "believes more in beauty than in art." His work reached a height of critical attention during the late 1950s and early 1960s in France with extensive studies in the Cahiers du Cinéma magazine, especially in the articles by Jean Douchet and Jean Domarchi, who saw in him a cinematic visionary obsessed with beauty and harmony, and an artist who could give substance to the world of dreams. Minnelli served as a juror at the 1967 Cannes Film Festival. The MGM compilation film That's Entertainment! showed clips from many of his films.
Minnelli's marriages ran as follows:
* Judy Garland (1922-1969); June 15, 1945-1951 (divorced) — one child, Liza May Minnelli (b. 1946)
* Georgette Magnani; February 1954-1957 (divorced) — one child, Christiane Nina Minnelli (b. 1955)
* Danica ("Denise") Radosavljev; December 1960-August 1971 (divorced)
* Lee Anderson (1909-2009); April 1980-July 25, 1986 (his death)
Minnelli died in July 1986, aged 83, after struggling with emphysema and bouts with pneumonia that caused him to be repeatedly hospitalized in his final year. He reportedly also suffered from Alzheimer's disease. He was survived by his two daughters, two grandchildren, and his fourth wife, Lee (1909–2009). He was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
Vincente Minnelli's Timeline
February 28, 1903
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
June 15, 1945
Los Angeles, California, USA
March 12, 1946
Los Angeles, CA, USA
July 25, 1986
Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California, United States
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States