Vincente Minnelli (February 28, 1903 - July 25, 1986) was the professional name of Lester Anthony Minnelli who was born in Chicago, Illinois, United States, the youngest surviving child of Mina Le Beau (a French American) and Vincent Charles Minnelli (an Italian American), musical conductor of Minnelli Brothers' Tent Theater. An accomplished stage director, he was brought to film in the early 1940s by director Arthur Freed, who recruited talent from Broadway, and is considered by critics to be the virtual father of the modern musical.
With his background in theater, Minnelli is known as an auteur that 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, he directed Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), during which he befriended the film's star Judy Garland. The two then began a courtship that eventually led to their marriage the following year. Their one child together, Liza Minnelli, grew up to become an Academy Award-winning singer and actress.
He directed numerous films, mostly musicals, including An American in Paris (1951), Brigadoon (1954), Kismet, (1955), and Gigi (1958). His last film was A Matter of Time (1976).
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 50s and early 60s in France with extensive studies in the Cahiers du CinÃ©ma 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. However, Minnelli's films are today considered some of the finest of the 20th century, being a part of the great era of the M-G-M musical. A celebration of his work and that of many other talents appeared in That's Entertainment!, which showed clips from many of his films.
He died at the age of 82 from Alzheimer's disease, and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. He is survived by his British-born wife Lee Anderson Minnelli (born c. 1907). His widow sued Minnelli's daughter Liza Minnelli over a controversy relating to Liza Minnelli declining to pay the bills on her Beverly Hills home which Liza Minnelli (allegedly under the influence of her then husband David Gest) wished to sell and then move her stepmother into alternative accommodation, Lee however refused, later appearing to reconsider.