Born on November 2, 1915, in New York, New York, Sid Luft was a boxer and test pilot before entering the world of Hollywood, managing Judy Garland's career after her MGM departure. The two wed, having children Joey and Lorna, and he produced her 1954 film A Star Is Born. Luft was later accused of abuse and drunkenness and the couple eventually split. He died on September 15, 2005.
Life Before Garland
Producer Michael Sidney Luft was born on November 2, 1915, in New York, New York. The third husband of famed performer Judy Garland, Luft is credited with reviving her career in the 1950s. Moving to Los Angeles in the late 1930, he started out in the custom car business. Luft operated Custom Motors in Beverly Hills. During World War II, he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
After a brief stint as a talent agent, Luft became a film producer. He made the B-movie comedy Kilroy Was Here (1947) with Jackie Cooper and Jackie Coogan and its sequel French Leave (1948) before meeting up Judy Garland. At the time, Garland was in a career slump after being let go from her film contract with MGM. She was also in bad shape personally as well, suffering from depression and chemical dependency.
With Luft's help, Garland took the Broadway stage at New York City's Palace Theatre in 1951, wowing audiences with her captivating, emotionally charged performance. "The Palace show made people realize she was dependable: She played there for 19 weeks without a missing a moment," Luft later explained in an article in Variety. The couple married in 1952 and welcomed their first child together, Lorna, that same year.
Two years later, Luft produced one of Garland's most famous film roles. A Star Is Born (1954) featured Garland as a performer who sacrifices love for fame. Netting six Academy Award nominations, the film brought nods to Garland and her co-star James Mason. So did the song, "The Man That Got Away," which Garland performed with palatable emotion.
Luft and Garland welcomed a son, Joey, in 1955. Continuing to work on Garland's career, he produced several tours and concerts for her. Their marriage, however, was a stormy one and was marked by several separations. When they finally divorced in 1965, the couple had engaged in an ugly custody battle over their two children. Garland told the court that "He struck me many times. He did a lot of drinking."
Despite this difficult situation, Luft still acted as a producer for one of Garland's most famous Broadway concert series, At Home at the Palace, in 1967. Not long after these performances, Garland began her own downward spiral. And at the time of her death due to an accidental overdose in 1969, both of the children were living with Luft in Los Angeles.
After Garland's death, Luft was involved in several projects related to her. He produced the documentary Judy Garland's Hollywood (1997). But Luft got into legal trouble when tried to sell the special juvenile Academy Award belonging to Garland. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sought to prevent the sale in court and eventually prevailed.
Over the years, Luft was known for being very protective of Garland and her legacy. He even got into a fight with his daughter Lorna over her 1998 autobiography, Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir, which was later turned into a television miniseries. In an interview with USA Today, Luft said that "there were so many lies in that movie" and that it was a "ridiculous biography of Judy Garland." Father and daughter were reportedly not speaking at the time of his death.
Luft died on September 15, 2005, in Santa Monica, California. In addition to his two children with Garland, he had a son, John, with first wife, B-movie actress Lynn Bari. He was married two more times after his relationship to Garland ended. After a brief marriage to Patti Hemingway ended in divorce, Luft wed actress Camille Keaton in 1993.
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