July 12, 2011 / 5:59 PM / in 6 years

France makes Liza Minnelli Legion of Honour officer

PARIS (Reuters) - France made U.S. actress Liza Minnelli, the singing legend with the powerful vibrato and jet-black pixie hairdo, an officer in its Legion of Honor.

Calling it a "dream come true," the 65-year-old daughter of Judy Garland whose signature song is "New York, New York" was awarded the red-ribboned medal during a ceremony in Paris.

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand cited not only Minnelli's extensive career on the stage, but her work in fighting AIDS.

"We love you because you make our lives better," Mitterand told the visibly moved star, best known as an actress for her portrayal of Sally Bowles in Bob Fosse's film version of "Cabaret."

"High priestess of musical theater, you are the contemporary incarnation of the versatile talent, American-style," he added.

Minnelli, wearing a black silk jacket with chartreuse cuffs, dedicated the award to her friend and mentor Charles Aznavour, one of France's best-loved singers.

"I am honored. I am totally in love with all of you," Minnelli told the assembled group in the elaborately decorated grand salon. "What I'm really really honored about is to be a part of France, to be a part of the city and country of my dreams."

The Legion of Honor is bestowed according to different ranks. Minnelli was made the first rank of Chevalier, or knight, in 1987. Her father, director Vicente Minelli, attained the third rank of Commander.

"She's progressing," Mitterrand joked to reporters.

Earlier this month Minnelli picked up the Icon prize at the Silver Clef awards in central London.

After picking up her award, Minnelli performed at famed Paris music hall The Olympia, the venue where her 1969 appearance became a live album.

Robert Redford, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Clint Eastwood are previous recipients of the French award.

Reporting by Alexandria Sage, editing by Paul Casciato

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