Taylor, Jackson and Houston to co-star at Liza Minnelli wedding

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The Independent US

Liza Minelli is to embark on her fourth marriage with what promises to be the most ostentatious celebrity wedding of recent years.

The Oscar-winning actress, 55, who announced her engagement to David Gest last month, revealed yesterday that the lavish February nuptials will include an extraordinary cast of troubled stars. Dame Elizabeth Taylor, who has been married eight times, will offer a wealth of wedding experience as Ms Minnelli's maid of honour, while Michael Jackson will give her away when she ties the knot in St Patrick's Cathedral, New York.

No effort or expense has been spared to ensure that Ms Minnelli, the daughter of Judy Garland and her third husband, Vincente Minnelli, says her vows in a manner befitting her Tinseltown pedigree.

Whitney Houston, a fellow target for media reports of drug addiction, will sing "Here Comes the Bride". Ms Minnelli is even converting to Catholicism to allow her to marry in America's most important cathedral, according to the New York Post.

Ms Minnelli, who has now recovered from debilitating hip replacement surgery, said she was "so happy" at becoming engaged to Mr Gest, 48. She met her fiancé in September when he produced Jackson's New York comeback concert.

Jackson will also be best man at the ceremony. The last time he performed the role was when Dame Elizabeth wed her most recent husband, Larry Fortensky. They are now divorced.

Ms Minnelli's half-sister, Lorna Luft, was optimistic that after her battles with ill health, Liza had found happiness at last. "Everybody was a little shocked when they heard the news," she said. "But she sounded very happy when she invited me to the wedding."

Ms Minnelli has been divorced thrice. Her first marriage, to the Australian singer and songwriter Peter Allen in 1967, lasted seven years, followed by a five-year marriage to the film maker Jack Haley Jnr. After that, she married the sculptor Mark Gero but their union ended after 13 years. She has been single since 1992.

Her appearance at Jackson's concert was her first in public since back surgery and two hip replacements. Her ill health forced her to cancel 14 concerts last year and she put on 28lb (12.7kg), which she has now shed.

She made her return to showbusiness at Madison Square Garden in New York singing "You Are Not Alone".

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