Lorna Luft, daughter of Judy Garland, appeared in her first Broadway musical, Promises, Promises, in 1971. She made several guest appearances on such shows as Love American Style and The Love Boat and made her film debut with Grease 2 (1982). Luft had success on Broadway before and after a stint in drug and alcohol rehab. She also wrote her autobiography, Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir.
Singer, actress. Born on November 21, 1952, in Santa Monica, California. The daughter of legendary performer Judy Garland, Lorna Luft has worked to carve out her own niche as an entertainer. Some of her first appearances were on her mother’s short-lived television program, The Judy Garland Show, when she was barely in her teens. Her older half-sister Liza Minnelli also appeared on the program as did her younger brother Joey.
In 1967, Luft appeared in her mother’s Broadway show, At Home at the Palace. The two sang duets together as part of the production. Sadly, they did not have another chance to work together. Garland - who had been struggling with a drug problem and depression for years - died of an accidental overdose in 1969. After her mother’s death, Luft had her own problems with drugs. She began partying at clubs and doing cocaine, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.
Luft appeared in her first Broadway musical, Promises, Promises, by Neil Simon, in 1971. Professionally, she struggled to find her way for some time. She made several guest appearances on such shows as Love American Style, The Love Boat, and McCloud. Also trying to make it in the music business, Luft released the single “Our Day Will Come/Is It Really Love at All” in 1973.
Luft put her vocal talents to use in her film debut with Grease 2 (1982) with Michelle Pfeiffer and Maxwell Caulfield. The film flopped and so did her next movie project Where the Boys Are ’84. Finding a warmer reception on stage, Luft made her return to the New York theater scene in 1983 with two very different productions. She appeared in the light-hearted musical Snoopy as Peppermint Patty as well as the intense drama Extremities with Farrah Fawcett. Around this time, Luft went to the Betty Ford Clinic to get treatment for her drug and alcohol abuse problems. According to People magazine, she was accompanied by her half-sister Liza who was also facing similar issues.
Success on Stage
Trying her hand at series television, Luft joined the cast of the medical drama Trapper John, M.D. in 1985. The series, unfortunately, was canceled at the end of that season. More successful with her stage career, Luft found work in regional productions and national tours. In 1990, she spent several weeks on the U.S. tour for Jerry Herman’s Broadway Years. Luft then took on Hollywood & Broadway two years later for a tour through Europe and Britain. Taking the lead role of Miss Adelaide, she spent almost two years on the road, performing Guys and Dolls.
Deciding to share her experiences as the daughter of a musical legend, Luft wrote her autobiography, Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir, which was published in 1998. The book led to a falling out between Lorna and her father Sid Luft. And the father-daughter conflict only heightened in 2001 when the miniseries Me and My Shadows: My Life with Judy Garland aired. Lorna was very pleased by the adaptation of her book and by Judy Davis’s portrayal of her mother, but her father was incensed, claiming that the miniseries was filled with lies.
Her relationship with her half-sister Liza has been volatile as well. They were close for many years, even singing together at the 1993 Tony Awards in New York. But Luft told People magazine in 1998 that the two have become estranged over Minnelli’s “self-destructive behavior.”
In 2004, Luft premiered her one-woman show, Songs My Mother Taught Me, in London. She has since toured several times with the production, which is meant to be a celebration of her mother’s most famous songs. Luft puts her own spin on such Garland standards as “The Man That Got Away” and “Chicago.” An album of the music from the show, Songs My Mother Taught Me, was released in 2007.
Lorna has two children, Jesse and Vanessa, from her first marriage to musician John Hooker. Married to musical director Colin Freeman since 1996, she divides her time between Los Angeles and the United Kingdom.
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