Even 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.