Vincente Minnelli (February 28, 1903 – July 25, 1986) was a famous Academy Award-winning Hollywood director and accomplished stage director. His skilled integration of story, music, lighting, and design elements in a film made him the most critically respected crafter of American film musicals. With first wife Judy Garland he was the father of Liza Minnelli.
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 befriended the film's star, Judy Garland, although it is probable the two had met casually earlier. 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). 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. The MGM compilation film That's Entertainment! showed clips from many of his films.
Minnelli died at the age of 83 from complications of Alzheimer's disease, and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Burbank, California. He is survived by his British-born wife Lee Anderson Minnelli (born c. 1907).
Ready for his closeup ; A longtime fan of old Hollywood, Lewiston native Mark Griffin views famed director Vincente Minnelli's story as one ripe for the telling.
Mar 28, 2010; RAY ROUTHIER By RAY ROUTHIER Staff Writer Portland Press Herald (Maine) 03-28-2010 Ready for his closeup ; A longtime fan of old...