Born Lester Anthony Minnelli, with his background in theatre, Vincente Minnelli was known as an auteur who always brought his stage experience to his films. The first movie that he directed, Cabin in the Sky (1943), was visibly influenced by the theater. Shortly after that, he directed Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), during which he befriended the film's star, Judy Garland, although it is probable the two had met casually earlier. The two began a courtship that eventually led to their marriage in June, 1945. Their one child together, Liza Minnelli, grew up to become an Academy Award-winning singer and actress.
Though widely known for directing musicals, including An American in Paris (1951), The Bandwagon (1953), Brigadoon (1954), Kismet (1955), and Gigi (1958) he also helmed comedies and melodramas, including Madame Bovary (1949), Father of the Bride (1950), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), The Long, Long Trailer (1954), Lust for Life (1956), Tea and Sympathy (1956), Designing Woman (1957), Some Came Running (1958) and The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963). His last film was A Matter of Time (1976) starring his daughter Liza Minnelli and Ingrid Bergman. He received an Oscar nomination as Best Director for An American in Paris (1951) and later won the Best Director Oscar for Gigi (1958). He was awarded France's highest civilian honor, the Commander Nationale of the Legion of Honor, only weeks before his death in 1986.