The New York Post reports that Gest has accused Minnelli of alcohol-fueled, violent drunken rages that has caused the 50-year-old producer severe headaches and neurological damage. In the lawsuit, Gest says that the beatings, which he claims occurred several times throughout their short marriage, now require him to take 11 prescription medications with symptoms that include "severe, unrelenting headaches; nausea; hypertension; scalp tenderness; insomnia . . . and phonophobia." The latter is described as "a fear of noises, fear of voices, fear of one's own voice, and fear of telephones."
According to the lawsuit, the first of several beatings occurred when Gest tried to get Minnelli to go to a rehabilitation center in Dec. 2001. While riding to the Charon Foundation in their limousine, Minnelli "commenced to hit [Gest] in and about his head with open hands and closed fists employing all her strength . . . in the back seat of the car [yelling], 'Don't make me go! I don't want to go!'" Other beatings, Gest claims, occurred throughout the marriage. The final and worst battle, the lawsuit alleges, took place in June 2003 at the Connaught Hotel in London.
Minnelli's spokesperson, Liz Rosenberg, told the Associated Press that Minnelli had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment. Allen Arrow, Minnelli's lawyer, did not immediately return a phone call placed by the AP.
Gest and Minnelli were married in March 2002 in a lavish New York city ceremony that featured a host of entertainers, including Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Douglas, Anthony Hopkins and Elton John. At the time the marriage seemed to invigorate Minnelli and relaunch her career, which had been plagued by the actress' weight and other medical problems.
Minnelli, an Oscar winner for her performance in Cabaret, was last on Broadway in a tribute to her late father entitled Minnelli on Minnelli; she returned to New York City's Beacon Theatre last year with her acclaimed concert Liza's Back! In addition to her Tonys for Flora, the Red Menace and The Act, Minnelli was awarded a special Tony in 1974 for "adding lustre to the Broadway season." Her film credits include "The Sterile Cuckoo," "Arthur," "New York, New York" and "Stepping Out." The singer is also a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress. Her most recent album is entitled "Liza's Back!" (J Records).