General News

Liza Minnelli's stepmother sues for elderly abuse

By:
Apr 04, 2002 | 11:35am EST

Liza Minnelli's 94-year-old stepmother has sued the Academy Award-winning actress, claiming abuse and breach of contract.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Superior Court, Lee Minnelli claims her late husband and Liza's father, Vincente Minnelli, guaranteed housing for her in his will. According to the suit, Liza Minnelli sold the Beverly Hills home and "has instructed her representatives to remove Lee by whatever means necessary," The Associated Press reports.

Minnelli's camp is denying the abuse charges, saying Minnelli treated her stepmother generously, paying all of her expenses during the years she lived in the house, including housekeeping and gardening expenses.

But according to the lawsuit, the electricity was cut off March 27 and Lee Minnelli was kept alone in a dark house while Liza Minnelli and her new husband, David Gest were on their honeymoon. "While the defendant is honeymooning all over the world, having fed 850 of her closest friends a 12-foot cake, the plaintiff is alone in a cold, dark house, at age 94."

The lawsuit also claims that Liza Minnelli fired the gardener and the pool attendant and that "the pool is an unhealthful [sic] swamp and has become an insect breeding pool." The neglect to the home has in turn "has caused [her] extreme stress, humiliation, embarrassment and worry," the BBC reports.

Lee Minnelli is now seeking a court order requiring her stepdaughter to pay utility and household bills, and unspecified damages and attorney fees. She also wants a trust of $1 million to be placed on the proceeds from the sale of the house, AP reports.

On March 27, Liza Minnelli wed Gest in an elaborate, star-studded ceremony in New York. The two are currently in London at the start of her European tour.

She told Variety's Army Archerd on Wednesday that she had tried to get her stepmother to move.

"My father left me the house [he died in 1986], saying, 'It is my wish if you sell the house that you move her [Lee] to a residence.' I finally got a nice offer to sell it and offered her a $450,000 condo, tax-free. She won't move. I've been supporting her forever. I did exactly what my father asked me to do. And now we can't go into escrow because she won't move. I am willing to give her a happy life."

More General News