Mitterrand pinned the red-ribboned medal onto the lapel of Minnelli’s black jacket at the ceremony in France in the grand salon of his ministry.
The award, created by Napoleon in 1802, is given to individuals for their service to the French state. Mitterrand praised the performer's charitable work in the struggle against AIDS as well as her celebration of life and liberty in her songs that has “made her an icon in every community, and notably the gay community.”
"I’m honored!" replied Minnelli at the ceremony. "I’m totally in love with all of you! To stand in this room in front of all of you, my God! This is my dream come true!"
In 1987 Minnelli was made chevalier of the Legion of Honor, the first of several ranks of the award. Vincente Minnelli, her father and the director who made Paris-themed films like “Gigi” and “An American in Paris,” rose to the third rank of commandeur.
While in France, Minnelli is scheduled to perform solo July 11 at the Olympia in Paris. Minnelli was last seen on Broadway in Liza's at the Palace…, which received a Tony Award in 2009 for Best Special Theatrical Event. The singer-actress took home the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 1965 for Flora the Red Menace and again in 1978 for her performance in The Act. She also won a special Tony Award in 1974 "for adding lustre to the Broadway season." Minnelli's film credits include "Cabaret," "The Sterile Cuckoo," "Arthur," "New York, New York" and "Stepping Out."