Liza and Hubby of 16 Months Separate

Liza Minnelli, 57, and her husband of 16 months, producer David Gest, 50, have separated, her spokesman confirmed to news agencies Friday.

Word of the separation arrived four months after the party-prone couple canceled plans for a proposed first anniversary bash for 1,200 guests in Times Square, blaming the war with Iraq and Minnelli’s entering rehab, reports Reuters.

Gest is believed to be in Hawaii while Minnelli remains in New York, reported This was Minnelli’s fourth marriage.

Her previous husbands were the singer-songwriter Peter Allen, producer Jack Haley Jr. and producer Mark Gero. All three marriages ended in divorce.

In the ’70s, after she won her 1972 Best Actress Oscar for “Cabaret,” she also had been romantically linked to director Martin Scorsese and entertainer Ben Vereen, among others.

Minnelli’s publicist Warren Cowan told Reuters about Gest and Minnelli: “I can confirm that they’re separated, but that’s all I know.”

On Friday, the couple canceled a joint interview booked for next week on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” a rep for the news talk show told the Associated Press.

The couple’s glitzy and unusual March 2002 wedding, which several journalists likened to a circus sideshow, was attended by Michael Jackson and such old guard Hollywood stars as Elizabeth Taylor, Esther Williams and Janet Leigh. (Minnelli’s late parents were MGM royalty: Oscar winning director Vincente Minnelli and musical legend Judy Garland.)

In a Vanity Fair article about the couple, Gest, who sports dark eyeglasses and waxed eyebrows, was described as reviving Minnelli’s career and serving as a major influence in an improvement of her health. (Over the past few years Minnelli has dealt with back and hip surgery, viral encephalitis, weight gains and an addiction to painkillers.)

Last fall, producing legend Clive Davis released her CD “Liza’s Back,” though the record generated more gossip-column inches than sales. At a launch party for the CD in New York, Minnelli dragged Gest (in shades) out before the audience, though he quickly exited the stage without saying anything.

This past week, Minnelli and Gest (who just turned 50) appeared on a British TV show hosted by Ruby Wax. On it, reports the BBC, they were affectionate.

Last summer, Minnelli agreed to participate in a reality show for VH1, to have centered on dinner parties in the couple’s Manhattan apartment. But the show was axed after producers said they had not had the access promised, a move which resulted in legal action, as yet unresolved, from Minnelli and Gest.

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