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.

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Alison Dubois
January 9, 2008, 6:09 am
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Alison Dubois is the lady behind the TV series The Medium. She has extraordinary psychic talents in which she is able to connect dead people with their loved ones. She also has a very kind heart and her books are very inspirational to read.

I went to a whole bunch of psychics/healers the years after my parents died and one did give a really incredible reading so I never doubt that there’s something to this.  But it gets complicated if you were on difficult terms with your parents when they died.  If you know they’re still hanging around and they didn’t much like you while they were alive and they were blaming, faultless people with enormous egos, life gets kind of tricky when things don’t go well.  I mean, after Divorce, you already know how vengeful and manipulative they are.  One of the psychics once told me that my parents had reconciled.  But she wasn’t really psychic because she couldn’t read the sarcastic comments that were going through my head after she said that.  Yeah right, just rub your fucking heels together 3 times lady and we’ll all be back in Kansas.

I can deal with the fact that in the front of my head I have enormous guilt for not taking full care of my Mother when she got sick. Sometimes I sabotage myself because of this. (When Divorced parents die, if they don’t have a spouse, it’s up to the kids to do everything. For some reason people don’t know that. And I felt that I had already pulled my Mother through as many Death Attempts as I could handle.).

That’s what’s in the front of my head.  In the back of my head I’ve always got a small paranoia that my Mother is sabotaging my life from the grave. I mean, if she’s dead and really floating around the way the psychics say she is, I know that she’s mostly partying in bars with strange guys glad to be free of Herpes and AIDS, but at odd moments I know she has to take a break and attack me.  That’s just her personality. I mean, I can’t even pee in private sometimes.

How did I get on to this?  Oh. Talking about Ghosts.

Alison’s parents divorced when she was very young, her mother remarried and then she went through a second divorce at Age 12. Alison describes how upsetting this was for her at the time in books she has written about her life. She turned to alcohol and partying in high school.  That’s actually pretty healthy.  Anything that gets a kid out of the Divorce house is healthy. She’s married and has 3 children.  At least on TV she has three children.  How nice would it be to have Patricia Arquette representing you on TV?  Oh well, 2 sets of parents, 3 sets, maybe 4.  It’s not a big deal to see your doppelganger on TV.  Monday Nights at 10:00.  NBC.  I saw the show last night. Awesome.

Exemplary Children – Julia Roberts
January 6, 2008, 8:27 am
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Julia Roberts is a Hollywood Screen Icon known for her beauty and wisdom. Her Love life was media fodder for years as she bounced in and out of relationships.  She was married to Lyle Lovett from 1993 to 95 and has been married to Daniel Moder since 2002.  The couple has 3 children.  Roberts is an activist in the environmental movement.

Roberts’ parents divorced in 1971 when she was 4 years old.  Her parents were involved in theater and her brother, sister and niece are also professional actors.  Roberts’ Mother remarried and had another daughter.  Her Father died of Cancer when she was 10 years old.

Exemplary Children – Tipper Gore

Former “Second Lady” Tipper Gore is married to former Vice-President Al Gore. The couple has four children.

Tipper’s parents divorced when she was 4 years old and she was raised by her Mother and Grandmother. She has dedicated a lot of her work to child advocacy along with other good causes. She has a Master’s Degree in Psychology and is a professional photographer and has written a few books. She has also advocated to erase the stigma of Mental Illness by writing about her problems with Depression.

Successful Children – Angelina Jolie
December 31, 2007, 6:49 am
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Angelina Jolie is the beautiful, firey film actress, philanthropist and human rights advocate. Her parents divorced when she was 2 years old. She is estranged from her famous actor Father whose name I can’t remember. He likes to tell people publicly that Angelina is crazy.  And sometimes I think she’s a little over the top but I never wonder why or about what because that’s pretty obvious to me.  She sure is gorgeous and I like her acting, but I have to admit that I pretty much sided with Jen when Angie broke up Jen & Brad’s marriage.

Angelina’s Mother just passed last year.  I wonder if that’s tougher for kids from Divorce.  Once you’ve lost innocence through grief or loss, whatever it is, each suceeding incidence opens a new wound while opening up the old wounds as well. Plus, you’re completely alone in dealing with the loss all over again. The other parent is generally oblivious to your feelings.  There’s no feeling of family crisis; it’s just always a personal crisis because no one is there to share it with you.

Angelina gives a whole lot of her time and money to charitable causes.  She’s obviously very sensitive to suffering in others and a true activist.

Success Story – Rebecca Walker

Rebecca Walker is the daughter of the poet Alice Walker & Mel Leventhal, a famous civil rights lawyer. She is a feminist and writer herself and has written about growing up in a mixed race family(ies) and of her parents’ divorce in Black, White & Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self. Time Magazine has named her one of the 50 Future Leaders of America.

Rebecca’s parents divorced when she was in the 3d grade. She switched back and forth between her parents, 2 years with one then 2 years with the other which meant that not only was she living with 2 separate parental households, but she was living on different coasts in the U.S. every other year, as well as having to living with biracial ethnicity. “Exhausting” is how she now describes bouncing between families of two races and two religions. She went through a drug phase and got pregnant when she was 14. When she was 18 she switched her last name from her Father’s surname to her Mother’s.

She is bisexual and has currently had a baby boy. She is estranged from her Mother. Her most recent book is about her attitudes and experiences with Motherhood.

Here’s a quote and link from a 2001 article about Walker’s book:


Trapped in a destructive cycle, needing to re-invent herself every couple of years (and having had little clue as to who she was in the first place), Rebecca found she belonged simultaneously to two worlds and to none. Not surprisingly, some of the adjustments she made took on a racial twist: Denying part of herself each time she shuffled from city to city, from Jewish to black, from status-quo middle class to radical-artist bohe-mian, she trained herself to keep the code, not to say anything too white when she was with friends from the inner city, not to say anything too black when she was at Jewish summer camp.

But mostly Rebecca Walker’s story, as she tells it, is about raising herself. Her mother bragged in interviews that she and her daughter were like sisters, but as Rebecca points out, “being my mother’s sister doesn’t allow me to be her daughter.” So while Alice Walker was off on speaking engagements, sometimes for days on end, her “sister” Rebecca was choosing her own high school, taking drugs, having sex and generally fending for herself.

Nellie Bly
December 25, 2007, 6:57 am
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Nellie Bly was a 19th century journalist, author, industrialist and charity worker. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1864 to an upper middle class family. Her Father died when she was 6 and left a great deal of his money to his children from his previous marriage so her family struggled with financial problems. Her Mother remarried an abusive man when Bly was 9 and then divorced him for this reason when Nellie was 14. Nellie had to testify at the trial and this had a deep impact on her. Bly became a journalist when she wrote a letter to the Editor of her newspaper in regards to a chavinist opinion in one of its articles. From then on spoke out on behalf of the underprivileged. She took her name from a Stephen Foster song “Nellie Bly.”

Bly reported on bad working conditions of female factory workers and took off to Mexico by herself to work as a foreign correspondent. She had herself committed to an insane asylum in order to report on the deplorable conditions in a famous Mental institution for her famous piece “10 days in a Madhouse.” This led to huge government reforms. Probably her greatest stunt was traveling around the world by herself in 72 days as inspired by the Jules Verne novel. She became a huge media star.

Bly married a man who was more than 40 years her senior and and took over his company after he died. She applied for several patents and was known for a time as one of the leading female industrialists of her time. It seems she wasn’t gifted with money management skills, though, and declared Bankruptcy. After this time she returned to Journalism and Charity work.