Liza Minnelli celebrated her 77th birthday on Sunday, but her time spent getting to this point in her life was all but easy.
The acclaimed dancer and actress first made her debut stage appearance at age 3 when her mother, Judy Garland, took her up there, according to a 2020 interview with Variety.
She stuck with dancing throughout her childhood, despite having Hollywood famous parents, and had her first acting performance in high school as the lead role in the school’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank.
Her career moved quickly afterwards, winning her first Tony award at 19 (becoming the youngest recipient at the time) for her Broadway debut in the musical, Flora the Red Menace.
The rest of her career was filled with awards, Minnelli being in prestigious company as an EGOT winner (someone who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony in their lifetime), winning her first Oscar for her performance in Cabaret.
But much like her mother, who died of an accidental drug overdose in 1969, she, too, struggled with substance abuse, citing her first ever encounter with prescription drug addiction just after her mother’s death when a doctor prescribed her valium to cope with the loss.
Minnelli has had a few stays in rehab throughout her life, her first time being in 1985. She has always been adamant about asking for help when she believes she needs it, though, telling The Guardian in 2008, “My whole life, this disease has been rampant. I inherited it, and it’s been horrendous, but I have always asked for help.”
The same attitude was present from her representative, Scott Gorenstein, who talked with E! In 2015 amid her most recent visit to rehab.
“Liza Minnelli has valiantly battled substance abuse over the years and whenever she has needed to seek treatment she has done so,” Scott said, with this visit being reportedly connected to alcoholism. “She is currently making excellent progress at an undisclosed facility.”
Her support system goes as far back as coming from her father, Vincente Minnelli, who helped her check into the Betty Ford Center for her first rehab treatment.
“I knew [I had a problem], and I told my father,” she told Variety. “He said, ‘Well, let’s see what we can do about it.’ I said, ‘Well, all these people talk about the Betty Ford Center,’ and he said, ‘Then you’ll go there.’ Just like that. So he took me there.”
In the past decade or so, Liza has stepped away from show business and lives a more quiet life – except for a surprise appearance at last year’s Oscar ceremony – as compared to her highly publicized career.
Gorenstein talked to the New York Post last year following her Oscars appearance, saying, “Liza is living her best life, not having to be in front of the cameras. She’s been under tremendous pressure her entire life to perform for audiences. The past couple of years have allowed her to relax and enjoy another phase of her life.”
He added, “She has had some health problems. However, when an opportunity comes in front of me that says, ‘Would Liza Minnelli like to present the Best Picture Oscar with Lady Gaga?’, the quiet life goes out of the window! Liza is a legend and she deserves to be at the Academy Awards, so I put it in front of her people and recommended that she do it. I said it would be an historic occasion. I wanted to remind people who she is.”
She currently resides in LA, reportedly getting help from longtime friend and New York pianist, Michael Feinstein.