The New York Post reports that Minnelli claims husband David Gest was "cruel and inhuman to her." Minnelli's divorce suit follows this week's announcement that Gest is suing the Academy Award winner for $10 million.
Gest's suit accuses Minnelli of alcohol-fueled, violent drunken rages that have 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 16-month 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 Gest's lawsuit, the first of several beatings occurred when Gest tried to get Minnelli to visit 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.
When asked to comment about Gest's claims, Minnelli told Splash News, "Oh, my God, it's not true. . . It's stupid. I never hit him. It's rubbish." Minnelli also issued a statement that said, "I hoped very much that the end of my marriage would be handled with mutual respect. The allegations in this lawsuit are hurtful and without merit." Minnelli also said that she "will continue to focus on my work, my sobriety, and my fans who have been so wonderful to me."
* 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).