The Real Reason We Don't Hear From Liza Minnelli Anymore

The daughter of entertainment royalty (her mother is Judy Garland), Liza Minnelli is an American treasure. After her Tony-winning debut on Broadway in 1964 with Flora the Red Menace, through to her Academy Award-winning performance on the big screen in Cabaret, landmark TV special Liza with a Z, and other prominent roles in Arthur and Arrested Development, Minnelli has been a pop culture icon for more than 50 years. Or at least she was — she seems to have exited stage right, and never returned for her encore. Here's why we don't see Liza Minnelli around as much as we used to.

She mostly does small nightclub gigs

It's not like Minnelli has retired from performing. She may not star in big musical productions anymore, but she'll still get out on a stage and sing a few songs, tell some showbiz stories, and banter with the musicians — but usually it's in a very small club. And it's usually just her and a piano player giving an intimate show.

In 2016, she appeared at Feinstein's at the Nikko, a San Francisco venue run by her friend, pianist Michael Feinstein. With Feinstein on the keys, and after an introduction from her sister, Lorna Luft, Minnelli sang, among other songs, "I Love a Piano," a tune from the 1948 Judy Garland movie Easter Parade.

She launched a well received but ill-fated casino tour

Minnelli isn't averse to a slightly bigger crowd, however. Over the last couple of years, she's played a number of shows at casinos across the country. Just a few weeks after completing rehab in 2015, she hit the road for a big show at a casino in Mississippi called Liza Minnelli in Concert with Billy Stritch (Stritch being her musical director). Minnelli performed a cabaret act with a seven-piece band, told stories about her life in and out of show business, and sang the signature songs fans expected her to sing, such as "Theme from New York, New York" and "Cabaret."

One song she wouldn't perform: her mother's signature tune, "Over the Rainbow." Her response when a fan in the audience yelled it out, "It's been done."

The show was critically acclaimed, but the tour was short-lived. On her doctor's orders, Minnelli canceled three shows scheduled for November 2015.

She's struggled to stay healthy

Minnelli has had a lot of health problems over the last few decades, well beyond the usual joint problems that afflict dancers. In 2000, she was diagnosed with encephalitis, a potentially deadly swelling of the brain. Emergency workers found her shaking on the floor, and at first attributed her slurred speech and drooping face to a stroke.

In addition, she was sidelined in 1997 by vocal cord surgery. She's also had hip replacement surgery. Twice. Minnelli's last major public appearance, and her first in months, was in September 2016 at a Pasadena Symphony and POPS concert in California to see her friend and collaborator, Michael Feinstein. When he needed a backup conducting baton, Minnelli took one out to him on stage, although other reports say at the same event, she had to be helped out of her chair and needed assistance to walk.

She's making millions in art and real estate

While Minnelli may be laying low performance-wise, she's out there making big financial deals that are bringing in a lot of cash. In 2016, she put up her entire collection of works by pop art icon Andy Warhol up for sale. Asking price for the 22 items: a whopping $40 million. That wasn't too long after she sold her posh, high-rise condo on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Minnelli's piece of the co-op known as Imperial House was snatched up for a measly $8.37 million.

While the gossip rags suggested that Minnelli was selling off her assets because of severe financial problems, the actress's handlers denied there was anything like that going on, simply that like any art collector, she was always on the lookout for a good transaction opportunity. As for the house, she simply wanted to move to Los Angeles.

She's been getting treatment for addiction issues

Minnelli takes after her mother, in more ways than one. Like Judy Garland, Minnelli is an immensely talented actress and singer. Also like her mother, Minnelli has struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. In March 2015, she checked into a California treatment facility for about 30 days to treat the issue. It's not the first time Minnelli has sought help—she has been in drug rehab previously in 2004 and 1984. At last report, she's clean and healthy.

She does a lot of charity work

Instead of making movies or live shows, Minnelli spends a lot of her time (and money) giving back to her community. For years, she served on the board of directors for the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, a foundation that spreads education about proper childhood brain development.

She's also been a major supporter of amfAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Minnelli says the organization is important to her because she's "lost so many friends" to AIDS — her 1993 single "The Day After That" was released in conjunction with World AIDS Day 1993. In 2009, amFAR honored Minnelli for her many contributions to the organization.

She's had her time in the spotlight, and that's fine

Perhaps the real reason Minnelli isn't as big a pop cultural force as she once was is that she just doesn't want to be...and she doesn't have to be. She's one of a handful of performers to have taken home the elusive EGOT—that's Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, the big 4 of American entertainment awards.

Minnelli doesn't have anything to prove, work-wise, and she's got enough money and clout that she doesn't have to work if she doesn't want to. For example, her last two screen credits are both from 2013, and for two very special projects: a cameo as herself in the musical theater-based NBC drama Smash, and as Lucille Austero on Netflix's revival of the classic cult sitcom Arrested Development. Plus, the woman is over 70 years old. It's pretty natural she'd start to slow down at this point.