Spoiled Children of Divorce

Exemplary Children of Divorce: Liza Minelli and Lorna Luft

Liza Minelli is the daughter of Judy Garland and Vincent Minelli. She was 5 years old when her parents were divorced. Lorna Luft is 6 years younger and is the Daughter of Judy Garland and Sid Luft. She was 9 when her parents Divorced and 16 when her Mother died. Both have been interviewed extensively about their childhoods, their Parents’ Marriages and Divorces and their Mother. The two half-sisters don’t seem to have a close relationship. This is a comparison of what they’ve said about their parents’ divorces.

Liza Minelli’s description of growing up in Divorce:


  • IS: Talk about feeling naked! You’re actually very good at showing how vulnerable we all are. Do you think your parents” divorce when you were little had anything to do with that?
  • LM: It gave me two wonderful outlets. My mother was an artist and highly strung, whereas my father was much calmer. He wasn’t like that on the set–evidently, he was Caesar on the set [Sischy laughs]–but at home he was sensational, and so was Mama. But Mama was stricter: I had to wear this and I had to do that. She was really kind and loving, but I used to be so happy to go to my father’s house. He was looser, and he fed my dreams.
  • IS: How?
  • LM: Well, I would go over to my dad’s house on a Saturday, and I would tell him everything, and I’d ask his advice. At the age of 6 or 7, I was like, “Well, what should I do?” And he’d say, “Do what you think.” Which made me realize that I had to think for myself. He would always talk to me like a very sensible human being. And then after he’d lay something like that on me, he’d say, “Who do you want to be today?” And I’d look at him and say, “Spanish dancer.” And he’d say, “All right.” And we’d get in the car and drive to Rexall on La Cienega and Beverly Boulevard, and we would buy crepe paper and a big box of safety pins. Then we went home, and because he’d been a wonderful costume designer and set designer in Chicago and in New York for Radio City Music Hall, he would create a Spanish dancer’s dress on me. He would pin the crepe paper with the safety pins and change my whole world. And when he was finished he would sit down and look at me and tell me how beautiful I was, and how wonderful, and then he’d say, “Liza, what does a Spanish dancer do?” And I would say, “Dance.” And he’d say, “Yes,” and he’d put on the music, and it was always the right music. I don’t know when he found the time to find the right music for what I had wanted to be, but he did, and suddenly I could dance, and I could find a whole world of dreams and the possibility of becoming somebody else. I’ve said it before, but it’s absolutely true: My mother gave me my drive, but my father gave me my dreams. Thanks to him, I could see a future.

Lorna Luft, younger half-sister, wrote a book, Me and My Shadows, about growing up in the same household. This is from Booklist review on Amazon:

  • Luft, often identified as Judy Garland’s “other daughter,” steps center stage to describe what life was like as the child of an icon. For the first nine years of her life, Luft was protected from the vagaries of her mother’s prescription-drug abuse and downward-spiraling mental health. But after her parents’ divorce, Luft found herself in the role of chief cook and bottle washer–in charge of cleaning up her mother’s messes. The horror stories from this period include breakdowns, breakups with almost everyone who was close to Garland, paranoia, and even knife-wielding episodes in which Garland went after her young son. After Luft had her own breakdown at 16, she left her mother’s home and never saw Garland alive again. Despite all the horror, Luft is kind to her mother’s memory, seeing the star as sick, not evil, and remembering all the many loving times shared between mother and daughter. Sister Liza Minelli doesn’t fare quite as well. Although Luft has many nice things to say about her, Liza’s drug abuse has left the pair estranged. Oh, yes, Luft had her own life, too, but not unexpectedly, her affairs with even the likes of Burt Reynolds and Barry Manilow and her own drug problems don’t make for nearly as fascinating reading as her tales of Judy and Liza. Dishy–and sure to be popular. Ilene Cooper

There are many interviews out there by Lorna Luft discussing her parents. I like this one in particular:

  • “You don’t really know your parents until you are in your 40’s,” she said.
  • “In your 20’s you have no idea, in your 30’s you start to get to know them and in your 40’s you have had some of the experiences they had and it is just a natural understanding that comes from being this age.”

from http://www.aussietheatre.com/news.htm “Growing up Garland: Lorna’s incredible Life.”

Judy Garland died of a drug overdose at Age 47. She had attempted Suicide previously.

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