Most people don't know the name Lorna Luft nearly as well as we do Liza Minnelli, but both of Judy Garland's daughters have as much in common — just as any sisters would. For one, they both experienced the highs and lows of living Garland and her many struggles. For another, they're both talented singers and actresses, just like their mama.
Luft and her younger brother Joseph are the children of Garland's third husband, producer Sidney Luft. Lorna's early childhood coincided with an era in which her mother would earn Oscar nominations for A Star Is Born and Judgment At Nuremberg, delivered some of her most legendary performances, and even hosted her own TV show. At the same time, this was also a time of financial uncertainty (Garland and Luft lost money as producers of A Star Is Born), health issues (Garland had a dangerous case of hepatitis), and an unstable relationship between Luft and Garland. The couple separated in 1963.
As we've seen in Judy and in other biopics of the late legend, Lorna was just a tween when she found herself having dealing with her mother's dependence on pills and alcohol. The broke actress would bring her children to live in hotels, and when they couldn't pay the bill, they'd put on all their clothing at once and sneak out.
"I always knew that as long as I was with her I was okay," Lorna said on the docuseries Somebody's Daughter, Somebody's Son, but after a bitter custody battle, Lorna and Joe eventually stayed with their father full time. They were 16 and 14 when Garland died of a drug overdose in London.
Witnessing all her mother went through didn't dissuade Lorna from going into show business. She had success in theater early on, starring in the Broadway musical Promises, Promises when she was still a teenager. She had some minor movie roles, in Grease 2 and Where the Boys Are, and was a nurse on the '80s series Trapper John, M.D. for a season.
In 1998, Luft wrote the memoir Me and My Shadows, about living with her mother. She later produced the 2001 critically acclaimed TV movie, Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, based on the book.
Just in time for the Bradley Cooper-Lady Gaga remake of A Star Is Born, Luft released another book, A Star Is Born: Judy Garland and the Film That Got Away, last year. She shared photos from her own archive while describing the various ways Hollywood execs screwed up the 1954 film. (It was once three hours long, but when theaters complained, they cut it down, never saving the cut footage for posterity.)
Though she's lived decades longer than her mother, Luft has had her own health struggles too. She has said she did plenty of drugs in the '70s and went to rehab for it. She had surgery for breast cancer in 2012 and 2015. Her cancer returned as a brain tumor, which she said was successfully removed in 2018.
Luft was well enough to go on book tour and to attend the premiere of the new A Star Is Born. According to her interview with Billboard earlier this year, she was pleased with the way Cooper and Gaga honored Garland's memory. Meanwhile, she claimed that the makers of Judy didn't consult Garland's family at all.
Zellweger told the Los Angeles Times she didn't reach out because she didn't want to bother Luft while she was undergoing treatment for cancer.
"That was a time for her and her family, not for work and professional questions and a stranger to approach her about things that ultimately don’t matter, right?" Zellweger said.
That may be why instead of attending Judy premiere parties, Luft is in London, promoting her upcoming show.