Vincente Minnelli

Vincente Minnelli

Vincente Minnelli (February 28, 1903July 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.


Born Lester Anthony Minnelli in Chicago, Illinois, United States, Minnelli was the youngest surviving child of Mina Mary LaLouette Le Beau and Vincent Charles Minnelli. His father was musical conductor of Minnelli Brothers' Tent Theater. Minnelli's Chicago-born mother was of French Canadian descent and his paternal grandfather was from Sicily.

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).


His marriages ran as follows:


  • Named his daughter Liza Minnelli after the Gershwin song "Liza." He had directed the number for Ziegfeld Follies (1946), but it was cut from the final version of the film.
  • Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, USA, in the Triumphant Faith Terraces area.
  • Father-in-law of Peter Allen, Jack Haley Jr. and David Gest
  • Inventor of the "Crab Dolly", a camera dolly on wheels that can move the camera in any direction.
  • Insisted on using a shade of yellow in the design of his sets that had to be specially mixed. MGM painters began calling it "Minnelli Yellow."
  • When he was signed to MGM, he was allowed to apprentice for a year on the lot. By the time he started directing, he knew every department at the studio.
  • Was voted the 20th Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
  • His widow, Lee Anderson, was his companion for a long time before their 1980 marriage.
  • Directed 7 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 Oscar for their performances in one of Minnelli's movies.
  • Is portrayed by Hugh Laurie in Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001) (TV)
  • Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1967

Selected theatre credits




  • John Wakeman (ed.), "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945," pp. 778-787, New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.

External links

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