Ellen’s Stupid Joke Aside, Here Are Five Reasons To Celebrate Liza Minnelli On Her 68th Birthday

Liza Minnelli, 1977Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, PittsburgEven people with only a peripheral knowledge of Liza Minnelli were appalled by Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres’ dubious joke about the legendary entertainer during the live broadcast last weekend. So what if she’s a favorite of female impersonators? As the only Oscar-winning child of two Academy Award-winning entertainers (Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli — and if you didn’t know that, eternal shame on you), Liza is undisputed Hollywood royalty and one of the most tirelessly devoted allies to the LGBT communities. Sure, she’s had some very public ups (she’s a member of the exclusive EGOT club) and downs (let’s be kind and not mention the name of her most recent hideous ex-husband) over the course of her storied career (name an iconic performer worth her salt who hasn’t), yet she’s always made a thrillingly triumphant return (let’s not call them comebacks). On March 20 Minnelli will take the stage with drag legend Miss Coco Peru to discuss some of her career highlights during an event that will benefit L.A.’s Gay & Lesbian Center. So as she celebrates her 68th birthday today, let’s take a look back at some of the reasons Liza Minnelli remains one of the all-time great gay icons.


Very few performers could hold their own against Judy Garland, but Liza was certainly among their numbers during her guest appearances on her mother’s 1963 variety show.

For her electrifying performance as the divinely decadent Sally Bowles, Liza won an Academy Award as best actress for 1972’s Cabaret, one of the two or three greatest screen musicals in the history of the medium.

Results, which Liza recorded with the Pet Shop Boys, is the greatest ’80s pop album you probably don’t already own.

Sure, the second Sex and the City movie was bad enough to make us rethink our love for the series. Liza’s cameo and singular rendition of “Single Ladies” was worth the price of admission, though.


As one of the few entertainers of her caliber who has always donated her time and energy to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS, Liza was so impressed by Dallas Buyers Club that she hosted a bash to increase its attention among Oscar voters and promised star Matthew McConaughey she’d give him hers if he didn’t win his own. Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary.


Bonus reason: She inspired one of Kristen Wiig’s most eternally-hilarious Saturday Night Live skits. Go here and try to watch it only one time.

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  • Mdterp01

    Now see if I saw that first picture you have up of Liza I would think it was a man in drag. Is it? Or is it Liza. I mean sometimes its hard to tell. No I didn’t know her father was also an Oscar winner. I’m 36 and was never really into the whole Judy Garland/Liza gay stereotype.

  • Tookietookie123

    Am I the only gay person on planet Earth who has no clue as to who Liza Minnelli is? All I know is that other gay people idolize her, I must be a failure to gay kind.

  • Wilberforce

    I’m not much of a celebrity hound. But I’m of the Judy generation. Liza has a voice just as good. And she was always a good friend to us. For that, she should have our respect.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Tookietookie123: Its an easy thing to remedy. Google her.

    @Wilberforce: Amen, she definitely deserves our respect and she IS a good friend to us.

  • jckfmsincty

    Don’t forget her great performance as Pookie Adams in 1969’s “The Sterile Cuckoo”.

  • Johnny

    I love Liza so much, camp as knickers. I am so glad you mentioned the collaboration with the PSB’s one of my all time favourite albums and I still play it. Happy Birthday darling Liza xxx

  • Tackle

    @Wilberforce: I’m definitel in agreement that Liza has always been a good friend to LGBTQ people, and that she deserves our respect. However when you say that she has a voice just as good as her mothers, I’m in total disagreement. Singing wise, she was no where near as talanted as her mother. Judy Garland had a voice that was unparalled.

  • jonjct

    @Mdterp01: that’s a Warhol pic, so, that’s really Liza! beautiful.

  • balehead

    What lesbian doesn’t hate most gay icons?…Plus Ellen was being Transphobic…surprised nobody nailed her for it…I guess only men have to pay for their hate…

  • the other Greg

    @Tookietookie123: Any young gay person who’s really, totally unfamiliar with Liza Minelli should at least check out “Cabaret” and see what you think. Aside from her role in it, the movie is based on the accounts of Christopher Isherwood in 1920s-early ’30s Berlin, a significant time in gay history anyway.

    @balehead: ??? – She’s been criticized a lot for it and Queerty is criticizing her here for it. Don’t know what “nailed” would mean to you? (well, none of your comments make much sense).

  • alterego1980

    I grew up in the 90’s for the most part. The first real exposure I had to Liza was through Arrested Development, and she was hilariously brilliant! “with…club…sauce…”

  • Mdterp01


    It is a beautiful picture

  • Ms Urethra Johnson

    Her “better-than-the-rest-of-the-cast” appearances as a nymphomaniac on Arrested Development were pure genius.

    If you have no idea who LiZa Minnelli is and you’re gay… you’ve been living under a cultural rock far too long and should have your queer membership revoked….I mean really?

  • JennyFromdabloc

    @balehead: Let me be the first to tell you that Liza Minelli is one of, if not THE, most frequently imitated celebrities by drag performers. Therefore, Ellen’s joke was funny. Not transphbobic. Not dragphobic. Just funny.

    I’m not of the Liza (or Judy) generation either. But love her as Lucille 2.

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