After hitting rock bottom less than a year ago, Liza Minnelli has made an amazing comeback. Compared to her pained appearance in recent years, Liza, now 59, looks like a completely new person.
In 2004 the singing, acting and dancing legend was broke, boozing it up and battling vicious multi-million dollar lawsuits from ex-husband David Gest and former assistant M’Hammed Soumayah, who claimed the performer assaulted him and forced him to have sex with her.
She also battled a near-fatal bout with encephalitis — an inflammation of the brain — suffered a broken knee and underwent painful hip replacement surgery.
But the future appears to look bright for the star of Cabaret and Arthur. Friends say Liza is sober and healthy for the first time in years. And she credits her miraculous turnaround to religion.
“I believe in God,” the Broadway singer said when asked about her startling rebound.
“And I believe in the spirit of other people and I believe in goodness.” Long-time pals, however, say that Liza recovered her good health simply because she stopped drinking and getting drunk.
“She’s managed to stay on the wagon for more than six months now,” said a friend.
“Alcohol was killing Liza. “She was an out-of-control drunk who could not stop herself.
“Now, Liza’s been going to AA meetings every day and she has a small circle of friends — a support group — who keep her on the straight and narrow.
“She has lunch with them almost every day after she finishes a one-and- a-half-hour jazz dance class with a bunch of kids half her age at Luigi’s Jazz Centre in New York.”
Her amazing transformation comes after years of substance abuse and wild behavior. In 2003 Liza was in rehab at the Caron Center in Pennsylvania for what her publicist called an eight-week self-help program. But the treatment didn’t take.
And, as The National Enquirer reported last October, the troubled superstar was knocking back bourbons at a wrap party in Wilmington, N.C. for a film by the group OutKast.
Eyewitnesses told us Liza was “incoherent and rambling” when she suddenly jumped onstage and launched into an impromptu singing and dancing performance. She hit rock bottom last December when she took a drunken tumble in the bathroom of her Upper East Side Manhattan apartment. “I had a drink and immediately — immediately — called for help,” Liza said recalling the incident in an interview.
Of her long-time battle with alcoholism, she recently told an interviewer: “My whole life this disease has been rampant. I inherited it and it’s been horrendous, but I have always asked for help. And it has never ever affected a performance or stood in the way of my work.”
As far as work, Liza has plenty to keep her busy. She’s had singing engagements both in the U.S. and in Europe, with more planned for this summer. Liza will also appear in the upcoming indie film The Oh In Ohio.
When asked about her health, Liza told a reporter: “I’ve never been stronger. I dance every day.”