Born Lester Anthony Minnelli in Chicago on February 28 1903, his father Vincent was a musical conductor of the Minnelli Brothers’ Tent Theater. Wanting to pursue an artistic career, Minelli worked in the costume department of the Chicago Theater, then on Broadway during the depression as a set designer and costumer, adopting a Latinized version of his father’s first name when he was hired as an art-director by Radio City Music Hall. The fall of 1935 saw his directorial debut for a Franz Schubert revue, At Home Abroad. The show was the first of three, in the best Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. spirit, before receiving Arthur Freed’s offer to work at MGM. This was his second try at Hollywood — a short unsuccessful contract at Paramount led nowhere. He stayed at MGM for the next 26 years. After working on numerous Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland vehicles, usually directed by Busby Berkeley, Arthur Freed gave him his first directorial assignment on Cabin in the Sky (1943), a risky screen project with an all-black cast. This was followed by the ambitious period piece Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) whose star Judy Garland he married in 1945. Employing first-class MGM technicians, Minnelli went on directing musicals — The Band Wagon (1953) – as well as melodramas — Some Came Running (1958) – and urban comedies like Designing Woman (1957), occasionally even working on two films simultaneously. Minnelli is one of the few directors for whom Technicolor seems to have been invented. Many of his films included in every one of his movies features a dream sequence.
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