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Lorna Luft and Her "Shadows."

Lorna Luft new memoir is : "Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir." (Pocket Books). Luft talks with Terry about growing up as the youngest daughter to film legend Judy Garland. And as half sister to Liza Minneli. Luft made her Broadway debut in 1971 in "Promises, Promises." She toured nationally in the Broadway production of "They're Playing Our Song" in 1981-1982. She has also appeared in several TV shows including: "Caroline in the City," "The Cosby Show," and "Trapper John M.D." Her albums include "Girl Crazy," "Lorna Luft," "Where the Boys Are," and "Born Again."

21:52

Other segments from the episode on April 29, 1998

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, April 29, 1998: Interview with Campbell Scott; Interview with Lorna Luft; Review of Keith Ridgway's novel "The Long Falling."

Transcript

Show: FRESH AIR
Date: APRIL 29, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 042901np.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: Campbell Scott
Sect: News; Domestic
Time: 12:06

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

My guest Campbell Scott is starring in David Mamet's new film "The Spanish Prisoner." Scott, who is the son of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst, has been acting in movies since 1988. He's best known for his roles in "Longtime Companion," "Dying Young," "Singles," "The Daytrippers," and "Big Night," which he also co-directed and co-produced with Stanley Tucci.

In The Spanish Prisoner, Scott plays Joe Ross (ph), a naive inventor who becomes the mark in an elaborate con game. He's invented a top-secret formula known as "the process." His boss believes it will make a fortune for the company, but Ross suspects he might be cut out of the profits -- and that suspicion is deepened when he meets a mysterious businessman played by Steve Martin.

Soon, Ross has no idea who are his friends and who's trying to set him up. Here he is with his boss, played by Ben Gazzara (ph). They're at a Caribbean resort to attend a stockholders meeting.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "THE SPANISH PRISONER")

CAMPBELL SCOTT, ACTOR, AS JOE ROSS: Mr. Klein, if I might -- they were kind enough to mention the stockholders meeting...

BEN GAZZARA, ACTOR, AS KLEIN: Mm-hmm.

SCOTT: But if we could discuss the exact terms of...

GAZZARA: Of your...

SCOTT: ... of -- of my bonus...

GAZZARA: Joe...

SCOTT: ... as my participation in...

GAZZARA: ... Joe, if this thing goes, there's gonna be more than enough to go around. Are you kidding? You did good in there. And I'm not going to forget it, neither are they.

SCOTT: Thanks -- thank you, but my exact question is...

GAZZARA: How much? Well, I'm in the same position as you. Eh? They keep me in the dark, too. Yes, they do.

Need a couple of bucks for your rent?

SCOTT: For my rent? I can't say that I do, sir, no, but...

GAZZARA: Joe, I'll tell you what. Frankly, I'm here to enjoy myself, and that's why we brought you fellows down. Give you a little perk. Now, you want to talk business? New York -- my office -- anytime. And Joe -- why don't you buy yourself some new clothes? Give yourself a holiday.

GROSS: Campbell Scott, welcome to FRESH AIR.

SCOTT: Thank you for having me.

GROSS: Your character in The Spanish Prisoner is an easy mark. And I'm wondering if you had to find anything in this character that makes him an easy mark for the cons?

SCOTT: I think that -- it's funny, we were just discussing this yesterday. There's -- someone has -- someone has thrown about this quote that you really can't con one who -- someone who doesn't want to be conned, or doesn't have a little bit of the con-man in himself.

I think that it certainly is David's intention, and I go along with it, that he not seem completely innocent; that in fact the reason he -- he is a mark, eventually, for these people is that he's, you know, does what he does well, and he also wants something. You know, he desires something badly and desires it enough so that he becomes engaged with a number of people, more than just with his -- with his common sense, but with his emotions. And you know, that's what gets him into trouble.

GROSS: What does he want?

SCOTT: I think he wants to be recognized for his -- for his hard work. There's no doubt that the world he lives in is a small one, but in a strange way, I think like a lot of people -- writers for example -- you know, they spend a lot of time in rooms alone working very hard on something, but it never quite seems real until someone either accepts it or gives you some praise or financial restitution or -- is that the right word? -- or -- or appraisal...

GROSS: Remuneration?

SCOTT: ... of it. Yeah, exactly.

GROSS: Yeah.

SCOTT: And -- and that's what makes you feel alive in some way. So, he's not a man who has a lot of friends or a lot of -- or -- or a lady that he loves or anything like that. So, he -- he has been working hard. But he also is aware enough to try to be recognized for it.

GROSS: Some directors like to keep their actors a little bit in the dark, so that the actor doesn't really know what his character's fate is until he gets to that scene in the movie. And since there are so -- there are so many kind of odd plot twists in this movie, and so many little conspiracies that your character is prey to, I'm wondering if Mamet kept you in the dark about any of it, or if you had the whole script that you were able to read before starting to shoot?

SCOTT: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, I wouldn't take a job if I couldn't read the script. There are some directors who -- who will only give you little bits. I've never worked for them, but I've a big thing about, you know, actors being treated as colleagues and all that. And David was very much -- you know, he's an old theater man and he -- you basically, everybody reads the script and talks about it for a little while, and then you shoot it. It's very no-nonsense.

GROSS: Is your attitude: I'm an actor; I'm a professional; I can handle knowing what happens to my character.

SCOTT: Well, you know, like I say, it's -- this is a thing with me, because I've been sort of on both sides of the camera now and both sides of the stage and -- but mostly an actor. And I do have hidden resentment about the way most actors are treated, and then the way they behave then in response to that, I think -- but, you know, often either like children or like gods, which are both ridiculous ways to treat them, I think.

GROSS: Now, have you ever been conned? Or do you have direct knowledge with what it's like to be the victim of a con?

SCOTT: I've never been financially conned. I think, yeah, we've all been conned in some way, certainly. I think that's part of the reason that people will hopefully be attracted, seduced by the movie. I -- I certainly have been conned in, you know, in relationships with other people; been made to think one thing when in fact that, you know, the opposite was the truth or whatever.

And then, of course, you always feel -- well, you feel horrible. I think that's hopefully part of the attraction of the movie, is that, you know, it's very safe to sit there in the dark and watch other people get screwed, and it kind of makes you happy to watch it, you know, and nobody -- nobody really gets hurt.

But in real life, people obviously get very hurt.

GROSS: One of your co-stars in this movie is Ricky Jay (ph), who is a kind of master of the con-game; a historian of con-games. Did he give you any insights into setups like this?

SCOTT: He -- he and David are always obsessing about how to -- you know, what to -- what to show and how much to show, because that's what it's all about. You know, that's how you draw people in and then pull the rug out from underneath them. They're both fascinated with -- with how to do that, whether it's, you know, magic, illusions, filmmaking -- it's all kind of the same thing for them.

And Steve Martin, who is also in the movie, is actually quite a -- a very good amateur magician and he and Ricky -- you know, they'll always whispering, these people. And eventually, you begin to just take it for granted that something's going on that you might not completely know the full truth about.

GROSS: Campbell Scott is my guest, and he's starring in the new movie The Spanish Prisoner, which is written and directed by David Mamet.

Campbell Scott, I want to task you about another recent role. This is a small part, but I thought you were just terrific in it. The movie was The Daytrippers.

SCOTT: Hmm.

GROSS: And you play an author in it who's, you know, one of these literary guys who's very self-absorbed -- very kind of narcissistic.

SCOTT: Oh really?

GROSS: Yes.

LAUGHTER

SCOTT: You thought so, Terry?

GROSS: Yes. And...

SCOTT: I didn't find him self-absorbed at all.

LAUGHTER

I'm joking, of course.

GROSS: Yes, I know. And this character really knows how to -- how to kind of flatter women into being able to hit on them.

LAUGHTER

SCOTT: I don't know. Did you think so? I guess so. I don't know.

GROSS: I -- I -- you seemed -- you just -- I thought you nailed this character so perfectly. I'd like you to just describe the character a little bit.

SCOTT: You know -- you know, you tend to nail the characters that are completely unlike you. So when you say that, I say: yeah, that must be true because, you know, I could -- I could never even approach women. I've been married now for 15 years, so I don't have the opportunity and don't want it, but I tell you, it's so much easier when you just have to do it from, you know, from observation.

And I read that script, which is written -- the movie, written and directed by Greg Mottola (ph), who's really -- a friend and quite a -- quite a talent to watch, I think.

Yeah, I mean, as soon as I read that part, we -- when he originally gave it to me, we had talked about me playing some other roles and stuff like that. And I was one of the producers on the film, just because I loved it so much and I liked him. And he said, you know: "who do you want to play?" And I said: "I want to play this guy -- the kind of sleazy guy who does nothing but -- but hit on women." Because -- but in a kind of a faux intellectual "I'm a writer" kind of way.

GROSS: Right.

SCOTT: For some reason, I don't know, I just sort of got it. Or I certainly understood it just from what he wrote. And you know, my whole thing is if the writing's good, it's easy.

GROSS: I'm wondering if this is the kind of guy who you've observed?

SCOTT: I don't really know if -- you know, I'm sure I have. I hope I'm not just imitating other movies. But -- but I couldn't pick anyone out, frankly. You know, there are people you meet, obviously, who seem both confident and also, you know, there is an amount of self-absorption that makes it possible for them to be that confident, because if they fail or get hurt or don't -- or get rejected, they just move on. You know, it doesn't -- it doesn't tend to stifle them for the next -- for the next go-round.

And for some reason, that tends to appeal to a lot of women, too.

LAUGHTER

GROSS: Campbell Scott, another recent film of yours, Big Night, is a movie that you teamed up with Stanley Tucci to make. You co-directed the film together. He co-wrote it with an old friend of his. And you also had a small part in the movie as a Cadillac salesman. Now I understand you and Stanley Tucci were high school friends.

How did you decide to make a movie together?

SCOTT: Well, he -- Stan actually wrote it with his cousin, Joe Tropiano (ph). They had worked on it for years and years and years. And Stan and I have known each other for -- since we were 14. We both grew up outside of New York City together and, you know, eventually became actors. And we would always call each other and say "we've gotta make a movie; we've gotta make a movie; we're so sick of, you know, working on other people's stuff."

And anyway, he wrote this beautiful script and I loved it and he was, I think, certainly smart enough to recognize that he definitely wanted to play the lead, but that doing that and directing might be -- might, you know, hinder the movie in some way. So -- be too much to bite off -- and so I said I'll be the adviser. You know, I'll watch. I'll do anything. He said: "why don't you co-direct it?" So, that's how it started.

And after that, basically, he and I and Joe, you know, operated as a trio, I mean, we really just -- we discussed everything and the sensibility was already in the script.

GROSS: You have strong feelings about how directors talk to actors. When you're directing, what do you want your approach to be, in directing actors?

SCOTT: Oh, I'm a complete tyrant.

LAUGHTER

Having said that -- actually, it's kind of funny 'cause you know Stanley and I when we were getting ready to do Big Night, we were -- we were -- you know, we'd talk about it for a long time. We'd say: "oh, this is going to be so great." You know, "we're finally going to be able to create the atmosphere that we really want on a set and treat everyone like -- like colleagues and equals and speak to the actors, you know, as they should be spoken to, like artists and, you know, people who are creating along with us the whole time. And it'll be so great."

And of course, within a week, we were like: "turn your head to the left. Don't do that. Laugh on this take. Get off -- OK, get off screen" -- you know. We got hysterical.

But there is a point to that, actually. The -- I think the reason we eventually got to doing that, sometimes, is 'cause there was a great amount of trust, and a lot of the people in the film were our friends already. Isabella Rossellini and Tony Shelleb (ph) -- these are people that we already knew. And so, you know, there's already a love and a trust there, and so of course you can -- you really can cut right through it and say whatever you want. That's the way I prefer it.

I think all directors, you know, you need to have a strong hand, without a doubt. You -- the best directors in the world, I think, are the ones who are able to -- are balancers. They're able to maintain quite an extraordinary and definitive vision, even if they really don't know what they want, which nobody does, until they see it before them.

But at the same time, be incredibly encouraging and flexible to all of the people around you. You know, that's -- that's -- that's a tall order, but that's the struggle you, you know, that should be attempted.

GROSS: My guest is actor Campbell Scott. He's starring in the new film The Spanish Prisoner. We'll talk more after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

Campbell Scott is my guest, and he's starring in the new movie The Spanish Prisoner, which was written and directed by David Mamet.

Now, you -- you are the son of two well-known actors, George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst. Did you expect to be an actor yourself when you were young? Is that something that you actually wanted for yourself?

SCOTT: No, it wasn't -- it wasn't even considered, really. My parents were the kind of people who were very professional. They would disappear at night for a few hours. We hardly knew where they went, and then they'd reappear and, you know, at 12 midnight. And we'd think: "gee, I wonder where they went?" And eventually, we figured out they were just going to the theater.

But no, it was neither -- it was something neither my brother nor I thought about at all. It just didn't -- it didn't strike us. And then I -- when I finally went to college -- I went to college to be a teacher, and that's when I did a couple of plays and I, you know, immediately fell in love with it.

GROSS: What kind of teacher did you plan on being?

SCOTT: A history teacher, which of course means I have no idea what I wanted to do.

LAUGHTER

GROSS: That was like your fall-back.

SCOTT: Except that I -- except that I like those historical figures, you know, and I really just want to drink.

LAUGHTER

At college, you know. I mean, who knows what they want when they go.

LAUGHTER

But yes, you're right. I was fascinated with history. Actually, you know, I'm sure that that's part of what -- you know, the same kinds of things that made me want to be a teacher and a history teacher, were the same things that, you know, you get up in front of a group of people and you basically talk about, or create characters in their heads and stories. That's what always fascinated me. I was a big reader.

I mean, the thought of performing, if you had known me back then, would have been absolutely ludicrous. I was completely, you know, a reserved individual.

GROSS: Very inhibited?

SCOTT: I wouldn't say "inhibited." I was just incredibly quiet and had no -- you know, I had no -- absolutely no desire at all to speak to any more than one person at a time, if that. You know, I just preferred wandering around.

GROSS: Well how did you first become aware of your parents as actors? What were the first, say, movie roles that you saw your mother and father in that made a big impression on you?

SCOTT: Well, yeah -- it's funny. Most of the early part of my life, probably 'til I was in my very early teens -- 13 or so -- my parents were theater actors. They really were known just in New York for mostly. And so we would go to the theater sometimes, and we knew what was going on, but it wasn't a big hullaballoo. And then in 1970, my dad did "Patton," and obviously that was a big deal.

So -- but shortly after that, they were divorced anyway, and he kind of disappeared and went off to another marriage. So that -- that was felt more just in, I'm sure, just you know, in the high school hallways in some way, for my brother and I. But we managed to just try to bypass it all, I'm sure.

GROSS: Having grown up the son of actors, what were some of the things you had seen in the acting world that you didn't want to do? In other words, mistakes that you had seen other actors make -- or ego problems you'd seen other actors have that...

SCOTT: Well, yeah, I think it's more of just -- it's anything that takes you away from the work at hand. I mean, both of my parents, and I don't -- I don't think it's -- you know, I don't like it when people say or think that it's exclusive to theater, but I do think it is more prevalent, certainly in my parents' generation, from actors who were from the theater, because there's a certain amount of -- of endurance required and -- and equality between amount of work and amount of money that you're paid. So, that it keeps you, you know, it keeps you focused on the correct things.

Obviously, you know where I'm leading. You know, people do get paid a lot of money to be in movies, often. Sometimes it's ludicrous amounts for work that is challenging and difficult sometimes -- things that you have to endure and all that, but you know, it ain't digging ditches, you know.

And so, a healthy respect for that is something that will always keep you, you know, centered on the right thing. Because it's -- it will hurt you, ultimately. It's not about -- it's not about me saying, oh, you know, this is -- there's only one pure way of, you know, being an actor and all that. You know, I don't believe that. Everybody's different and everybody has different things they want. And you know, there's a part of the seductive part of this business that's great. It's fabulous. You know, people take your pictures and everybody says you're great. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

It -- I mean, part of that is fun. But you have to take it with a serious grain of salt, and keeping your mind on what's important because that's what will give you a real life. And if you don't have a real life, how can you be an actor?

GROSS: I have one last question for you. The -- usually when an actor is mentioned, say, in a press kit or in a cast list, they're identified with their most famous movie. So -- and that movie's in parentheses. So your parentheses movie is, like "Campbell Scott, parentheses, "Dying Young."

SCOTT: Oh.

LAUGHTER

GROSS: That's always that movie's that's...

SCOTT: Genius.

GROSS: ... used in parentheses when your name is mentioned in something.

SCOTT: Yes, why do you think that is, Terry?

GROSS: Well, I -- well, I was going to ask you, is that the parentheses movie of your choice? Or would you like to be most identified...

LAUGHTER

SCOTT: Of course not...

GROSS: ... with a different film.

SCOTT: ... no. No, I don't want any parentheses movie. I don't want to be identified with any film. I think it's deadly, you know. I -- hopefully, anybody who has any kind of knowledge of what I, you know, I do or I'm trying to do, they can see that I'm -- I'm trying not to have a parenthial movie at all.

LAUGHTER

... but -- no, often, it's funny. I was talking to Harris Dew (ph), who's one of the guys who is working on publicity for Spanish Prisoner, and we were discussing one day in the car how I'm seen in this business, which is endlessly fascinating to me, because I do have a rather, you know -- people I think don't quite know how to take me, and the older I get, the more I consider that a compliment, because oftentimes people say, well, "he's a good actor, but who is he?" I mean, you never sort of -- you never see him really, but he seems to be in movies.

And to me, that's the greatest compliment of all because it means I'm working. I leave some kind of impression and yet -- and yet hopefully, the next time I'm working people will say: "who is that? Is that" -- you know. And I get the same thing on the street. You know, I'm very, very lucky that way.

I -- people often -- actually people, not often, but when they do come up to me, they say -- the first thing they often say is: "did I go to high school with you?" Or you know, they -- they don't know where they know me from. And I immediately consider that a compliment and then, of course, I immediately start to torture them and say: "what high school was it?" You know...

LAUGHTER

GROSS: That's right.

SCOTT: ... but ... just for a while, and then I say "no."

GROSS: Right.

SCOTT: But you know, so I -- hopefully I have no parenthial -- obviously "Dying Young" is my parenthial I think on the resume, 'cause people think it's, you know, the biggest deal I was ever in 'cause Julia was in it and all that, but...

GROSS: Right.

SCOTT: I -- you know, I had a very limited foray into Hollywood, so.

GROSS: Well Campbell Scott, I want to thank you so much.

SCOTT: Thank you very much. It was my pleasure.

GROSS: Campbell Scott is starring in the new film The Spanish Prisoner.

I'm Terry Gross and this is FRESH AIR.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest: Campbell Scott
High: Actor Campbell Scott stars in the new film "The Spanish Prisoner." Scott is the son of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst. in 1990, Scott gained recognition for his role in "Longtime Companion." His filmography includes: "Dead Again," "Dying Young," "Singles," "Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle," "The Sheltering Sky," and "Big Night."
Spec: Movie Industry; Campbell Scott; The Spanish Prisoner; David Mamet
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Campbell Scott
Show: FRESH AIR
Date: APRIL 29, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 042902np.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: Me and My Shadows
Sect: News; Domestic
Time: 12:30

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

There was a time when singer Lorna Luft was billed as Judy Garland's daughter and Liza Minnelli's sister. Now, she's written a new memoir about coming of age in their shadows. It's called "Me and My Shadows."

Luft has starred on Broadway in "Promises, Promises" and in national tours of "Grease," "They're Playing Our Song," and "Guys and Dolls." She's sung at the Rainbow Room, the Hollywood Bowl, and the White House. And she was a regular on "Trapper John, M.D."

Luft's memoir includes incidents in her mother's early career before Luft was born. When Judy Garland was signed to MGM in her early teens, the studio executives thought she needed a makeover.

LORNA LUFT, ACTRESS, SINGER, AUTHOR, "ME AND MY SHADOWS: A FAMILY MEMOIR": Well, you see in those days, they had sort of a mold of what "movie stars" were supposed to look like. So, they analyzed you. Actually, in the movie of "A Star is Born," there's a wonderful scene where she goes into the makeup room, and basically they are doing the exact same thing that they honestly did to her when she was 14.

And they analyzed -- her nose was turned up and her teeth were a little this. And what -- and they analyzed her whole face, which I guess is all right for film, but it also is very hard as a child to hear that. And it's a bit degrading, the way that -- you know, they treated these people like -- they -- they didn't take their feelings into account.

But you also have to understand, people don't realize today how big MGM was. And I think the statistics will floor people -- that MGM did 2,500 makeups an hour. Their phone bill was the same as New York City. They were a factory and they were a city unto themselves. So, they didn't really have a great deal of time to think about people's feelings; their, you know -- what they were -- what they were doing to them.

These people were products to them.

GROSS: Well specifically, you say that the studio -- studio experts found your mother too short, too chubby, with a round spine and no neck, bad bite, nose turned up too much.

LUFT: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: Her eyes were the only thing that got a good review. What were the correctives that MGM found for your mother Judy Garland?

LUFT: Well, they put little -- they would put little disks sometimes in her nose to make her nose not turn up. They did make special caps for her teeth, so that they wouldn't -- you know, she had a bit of an overbite. They dyed her hair different colors. They -- when she started to develop into being a young woman, they of course bound her chest. They didn't want that. They did that throughout the whole "Wizard of Oz."

So they basically put out this product that they thought would -- you know, they thought would sell to the movie-buying audience.

GROSS: Roger Edens (ph) helped your mother get her first big break, which was singing "You Made Me Love You" to Clark Gable at a studio birthday party. How did -- how did he arrange that and what role did he play in having her sing that song with a special lyric?

LUFT: Well, he wrote "Dear Mr. Gable" and he thought it would be a very, very nice gift to Mr. Gable, and he came up with the idea of having mama sing the song. And of course, he ran it by Mr. Mayer and everyone thought it was a wonderful idea.

And of course, when it happened and when mama sang the song, Mr. Gable apparently was just so touched and so, you know, he felt so wonderful about what had happened, and that somebody had taken the time and all of -- he was truly grateful to Roger and he thought it was really wonderful.

And when they saw the reaction, of course, of everyone around, Mr. Mayer got this great idea to send them both out on tour together. And so, they sent them out on a two-week tour together. And poor mama had to keep singing this song over and over and over again. And Clark had to sit there and pretend like he was hearing it for the first time. And she once told me that finally after about, I don't know, the 30th time, he said: "if you sing that song again, I'm going to strangle you."

LAUGHTER

It was a bit tiring after a while.

GROSS: Nevertheless, let's hear a recording of it, that your mother made, of Dear Mr. Gable.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "DEAR MR. GABLE")

JUDY GARLAND, SINGER/ACTRESS, SINGING: Dear Mr. Gable
I am writing this to you
And I hope that you will read it
So you'll know

My heart beats like a hammer
And I stutter and I stammer
Every time I see you at the picture show

I guess I'm just another fan of yours
And I thought I'd write
And tell you so

You made me love you
I didn't want to do it
I didn't want to do it
You made me love you
And all the time you knew it
I guess you always knew it

You made me...

GROSS: That's Judy Garland, and my guest is her daughter Lorna Luft, whose written a new family memoir called Me and My Shadows.

How old were you the first time you saw The Wizard of Oz, and what impression did it make on you?

LUFT: I was about four. Actually, I was a little bit older -- maybe I was about five. And we were in our house in Holmby Hills. My brother Joe was about two. And the movie was on television and our nanny at the time thought it would be just wonderful to make the impression on us that that was our mother.

And, she kept telling us that that was our mother. Now, my mom was in New York at the time. And when she realized that of course the movie was going to be on television, she called the house to hear two children just hysterical, crying. And she said: what -- what's happened? What's the matter?" And we said: "the monkeys took you to New York" and we were sobbing and the witch -- and because -- it's a frightening movie for little kids.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

LUFT: And of course, to be told "that's your mother," well it just scared the hell out of us. So, my first time watching The Wizard of Oz wasn't exactly thrilling. But then, she never let us watch it without her, and she would always sit there with us and watch it with us, so that we never were frightened again.

GROSS: You say that the year your mother made The Wizard of Oz, when she was 16, was also the year that she first took benzedrine, which she was prescribed by people at the studio. What was she prescribed it for?

LUFT: Weight loss. You see, in those days, this was sort of a little white pill that was sort of a little miracle drug. They knew that it cut your appetite. It knew it gave you a little bit of energy. And to a lot of people, it was harmless. And a lot of people were taking it. A lot of people were taking it. The writers were taking it. Truck drivers were taking it. Doctors were prescribing it because they didn't see any harm in it.

And this is a very well-known sort of documented fact, that the studios started to give certain people this little pill, not knowing what they were doing; not knowing that what the outcome would be in later life. Was it careless? Yes. Was it meant to be destructive? I don't -- I don't think so. I honestly believe they did not want to hurt these people, because they wanted to make money from them.

GROSS: Sure. Where's the percentage in making it so that they can't function because they're addicted to drugs?

LUFT: Exactly.

GROSS: So, she was also prescribed sleeping pills.

LUFT: Well yeah, when she couldn't go to sleep at night, then of course, you know, she was prescribed sleeping pills. Again, harmless -- won't hurt you. Again, very, very wrong, but of course they didn't have the knowledge. They didn't have the education that, of course, that we know about today.

They were trying -- they thought they were doing something that was all right to do.

GROSS: So, you think your mother was basically getting addicted to pills when she was a teenager -- when she was in her mid-teens.

LUFT: Sure.

GROSS: Yeah. You say she had her first, you know, "nervous collapse" on the publicity tour for The Wizard of Oz.

LUFT: Well, look at the movie's she -- you know, she -- they worked her so -- they worked these people so hard. They didn't really -- I mean, they did have child labor laws, but they weren't quite enforced. So I mean, they worked these people so desperately hard, because you've gotta remember something: MGM was putting out a movie a week into the theaters that they owned.

So I mean, it was extraordinary the hours that people were kept at the studio and how they were, you know, how long they had to work. So, that was their main concern. Their main concern was making money.

GROSS: And your mother was already a teenager when she was doing publicity for The Wizard of Oz, but she was playing much younger in the movie than she really was.

LUFT: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: You say she really hated having to have that more girlish image. And, well I'm wondering what effect do you think that had on her -- playing younger in the movies than she really was?

LUFT: Well, you know, she was 16. And when you're 16, you're -- that's also a very, you know, in-between age. In fact, she sang a wonderful song called "I'm Just An In-Between." And you basically -- you're not an adult, yet you're not a child. But you -- you don't quite know what you are at the age of 16.

But to be told that you are not 16 or not to look 16 or not to look any older, you know, you want, for some reason I know, all of us -- all of us want to grow up. All of us want to be older when we're that age. We want to be a little more sophisticated and we -- we want to, I guess, do the things that -- what grownups do.

And to be constantly, you know, told "you can't do this, you can't -- you have to look like this and you have to do" -- it's hard. And again, again, it takes a toll on your self-esteem.

GROSS: Your mother's first two husbands were much older than she was -- David Rose and Vincent Minnelli. You saw that as some kind of -- in retrospect -- you see that as almost like an act of rebellion against the youthful image she was forced into having.

LUFT: Well, I think so. She -- she had a wonderful -- I shouldn't say "wonderful" -- she had a famous sort of love affair with the brilliant screenwriter Joe Mankiewicz (ph). And the studio just completely went cuckoo about that, because he was a lot older, and basically said: "if this doesn't stop, we'll fire him" -- and you know, it was quite awful.

So they, you know, they broke that up. So of course, that leads to rebellion, so she said: "fine, if you're gonna do that, I'll do this." And this was a rebellion of a person who had started to become the number one box office attraction at MGM.

And she had made all these movies with Mickey Rooney, and of course she was always the girl next door, and she -- you know, he was always in love with a prettier girl, and then of course he would fall in love with her. And she was sort of always, you know, his best friend and all of that.

So again, she was never looked at as quote -- you know, one of the great "beauties" of MGM. Certainly, you know, there was Hedy Lamarr and Lana Turner and all of these -- you know, the great beauties of Metro. And there was mama, and she was always feeling insecure about, you know, the roles that they would put her into and why they wouldn't let her grow up and all of that.

And so I think that's -- it's a pretty normal thing to rebel against all of that.

GROSS: My guest is Lorna Luft. She's written a family memoir called Me and My Shadows: Living With the Legacy of Judy Garland. More after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

My guest is Lorna Luft, and her new memoir is called Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir: Living With the Legacy of Judy Garland.

You are the daughter of Judy Garland and Sid Luft. And in your book, you describe your father as being like an old-time Hollywood guy -- a real-life version of the kind of character Bogart played on screen.

LAUGHTER

In what way was he the real-life version of a Bogart-kind of character?

LUFT: Well, he was a real guy, you know. He -- you know, he hung out with Humphrey Bogart and he knew Clark Gable and he was a test pilot and he was one of those, I guess, the only way to describe him, was one of the old Hollywood guys.

GROSS: And, how did your parents meet?

LUFT: They met through friends, in a restaurant, and they met through a mutual friend, and my mother was, you know, in New York. She was -- she had just been unfortunately -- I have to say this, but it's true -- she had been fired from MGM.

And she went to New York to sort of get out of L.A., get out of Hollywood, get out of the way of the media. And she was just having a really great time and she was in a restaurant, and saw a mutual friend, and my father was there.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Lorna Luft. And she's written a new memoir called Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir: Living with the Legacy of Judy Garland.

Did your mother sing around the house when you were growing up?

LUFT: Yeah, she would. I mean, she wouldn't, you know, everybody would -- you know, she didn't constantly wake up and burst into song or open the refrigerator door and the light would go on and she would sing. She used to sing in the car when we would have the radio on. Or she would teach us songs, but she didn't constantly -- you know, that was her work and she loved to sing, and she loved, you know, putting on records that she had just recorded and all of that.

But she didn't just constantly, you know, sing around the house.

GROSS: What advice did your mother give you about singing when you were young?

LUFT: What she gave me about singing was basically, I mean, when she -- when she would hear me sing, she basically would -- never, she would never criticize me, but she would say things just very, very tenderly -- "try to make this sound," "try to" -- she would encourage me. She would never, ever put me down or say, you know, "that's not right" or whatever.

I didn't realize, as I've said before, that Judy Garland was giving me singing lessons. It was my mother.

GROSS: Right. On one of her TV shows, she sang a song called "Lorna" with a lyric I think written by Johnny Mercer for you.

LUFT: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: How did the lyric go?

LUFT: The lyric was -- it's a wonderful -- well first, the melody was written by Mort Lindsay (ph) and it was the melody to her television show. It was the theme song to her television show. And of course, there's never been a song called "Lorna." And she was all -- she was doing a segment on the show dedicated to the three of us. And of course, you know, "Liza" was written by the Gershwins and then "Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe" is a wonderful song. And then it came to my song, and there wasn't one.

So she had this song especially written for me. And she never told me about it, until the night of the show, and it was at the taping. And we watched. We were sitting there, and all of a sudden, she asked me if I would stand up in the audience, and she came right down to the footlights, and she sang this song to me.

And I was so touched, and it was just -- what was really wonderful was it -- I didn't realize where I was. It was just mom and myself. And I -- I was so enraptured and I was so proud of this moment, you know, all -- I can't remember the audience. I don't remember cameras. I don't remember anything. I just remember that it was her and I.

GROSS: I think it was about a year before your mother died, you moved out of the house and moved in with your father. Your parents had already separated by then. What made you decide to move out? What was, like, the turning point for you?

LUFT: There was just -- it -- my mom's -- as you -- as I say in the book, my mother's life started to just spin out of control. The addiction was just devastating. The bad choices with managers, agents, career -- and just being ill with this problem -- had just spun so out of control.

And I -- I was 15 years old and I didn't see -- I couldn't do it -- I couldn't take care of her anymore. I just -- I knew that for my own sanity and survival, I had to walk away.

GROSS: You're pretty convinced that your mother died of an accidental overdose, not a suicide.

LUFT: Absolutely. No.

GROSS: What makes you certain of that?

LUFT: Because my mother's ego would never let her do that to herself. She liked herself. She -- you know, she would never, ever do that on purpose. It was, you know...

GROSS: But she had made several suicide attempts.

LUFT: Whenever my mother made a suicide attempt, it was always right after she called someone and said she was going to do that. All right? It was an attention-getter. All right? Which is also the behavior of someone who has a lot of problems.

But, you know, you either -- I'm a firm believer if someone says they're going to kill themselves, they don't tell anybody. They just do it. The person who says "I'm going to kill myself," is not really going to kill themself. They want to be stopped. They want to be helped. They're crying out for help. That's what she would do.

And plus the fact when -- sometimes when it would happen, she was over-medicated. She had over-medicated herself and she didn't know what she was doing.

GROSS: You say in your book that it was really irritating for a while that you would be billed either as Judy Garland's daughter or Liza Minnelli's sister. Has it been hard for you to establish yourself as yourself on your own terms?

LUFT: Oh, I think it has. I think that it has. It's become -- it's become -- it was hard at the very, very beginning. But I knew that, all right? The only thing that ever really, really bothered me at the beginning of my career was when they would compare me and not give me a critique on my own merit.

You know, people -- I -- I'm desperately proud of my heritage and I'm desperately proud of the family that I was born into. But you know, people are very funny. They -- people come up to me sometimes and they say: "oh, we like you so -- better than, you know, so and so." And that to me -- I know they think they're giving me a compliment, but in a way, I'd rather then must say: "gee, we liked you."

GROSS: Lorna Luft -- her new family memoir is called Me and My Shadows. Here's Lorna Luft singing "I Got Rhythm" from a 1990 recording of the Gershwin musical "Girl Crazy."

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "I GOT RHYTHM")

LUFT, SINGING: Days can be Sunday
With never a sigh
Don't need what money can buy

Birds in the trees
Sing their dayful of song
Why shouldn't we sing along?

I'm chipper all the day
Happy with my lot
How do I get that way?
Look at what I've got

I got rhythm
I got music
I got my man
Who could ask for anything more?

I got daisies
In three pasture
I got my man
Who could ask for anything more?

Old man trouble
I don't mind him
You won't find him
'Round my door

I got starlight
I got sweet dreams
I got my man
Who could ask for anything more?
Who could ask for anything more?

Oh, who could ask for anything more?
Oh....

GROSS: Coming up, Maureen Corrigan reviews a new novel by a young Irish writer.

This is FRESH AIR.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest: Lorna Luft
High: Lorna Luft's new memoir is: "Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir." Luft talks with Terry about growing up as the youngest daughter to film legend Judy Garland, and as half sister to Liza Minnelli. Luft made her Broadway debut in 1971 in "Promises, Promises." She toured nationally in the Broadway production of "They're Playing Our Song" in 1981-1982. She has also appeared in several TV shows including: "Caroline in the City," "The Cosby Show," and "Trapper John M.D." Her albums include "Girl Crazy," "Lorna Luft," "Where the Boys Are," and "Born Again."
Spec: Music Industry; Theater; Family Judy Garland; Liza Minnelli; Books; Authors; Me and My Shadows
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Me and My Shadows
Show: FRESH AIR
Date: APRIL 29, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 042903np.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: The Long Falling
Sect: News; International
Time: 12:55

TERRY GROSS, HOST: "The Long Falling" is the first novel by a young Irish writer named Keith Ridgeway. The book has been generating a lot of advance buzz in this country. Book critic Maureen Corrigan says this is a case where the buzz is befitting.

MAUREEN CORRIGAN, FRESH AIR COMMENTATOR: The Long Falling is one of those rare novels that so much creates its own world, it's hard to describe. Sure, there is some familiar fictional elements present here. Early in the story, a man is murdered. But the murder that really rivets our attention is emotional, rather than physical -- the slow murder of memory and love.

It's a suspense story, but the suspense that keeps the reader breathless is more about how much sadness a soul can endure than it is about the police tracking down a suspect. And it's a novel that takes place mostly in Dublin, but Dublin here is a city the tourist board doesn't advertise -- a place that hosts angry pro-choice demonstrations and sports gay bars and bathhouses.

Ultimately, the literary category that Keith Ridgeway's debut novel most fittingly belongs to is that of "fiction that leaves reviewers sputtering." Like the novel's initial British reviewers, I find myself relying on overused words like "astonishing," "lyrical," and "disturbing" to try to capture its power.

The main character in A Long Falling is an Englishwoman in her late 50s named Grace Quinn (ph), who's lived all her adult life with her husband in rural Ireland. The novel's unsentimental narrator tells us that everybody knew Grace's husband and everybody knew her. Neither of them was liked.

The reasons why are brutally simple. Years earlier, Grace briefly turned her back on her toddler son Sean and he fell into a drainage ditch and drowned. The villagers never forgave her. The summer before the story opens, Grace's husband was driving home from a drinking binge when he hit and killed a local girl. Having his license revoked and spending months in prison haven't improved his silent, ugly disposition.

After enduring a particularly violent beating from him, something snaps in Grace. One night, she gets in the car, spots the figure of her husband stumbling home from the pub, and presses her foot down on the accelerator. While the county police puzzle over this deadly hit and run accident, Grace takes off for Dublin to stay with her remaining son, Martin, whom she hasn't seen for years -- not since his father disowned him when he came out.

The police and a journalist friend of Martin's steadily close in on the truth about the accident. But the threat of being arrested is nothing next to Grace's growing dread that she and Martin, once soul-mates, have become estranged by time and circumstance. It's Ridgeway's measured pacing -- his restraint and his exact, unexpected use of language -- that distinguishes him as a storyteller.

Here, for instance, is a sentence where Grace thinks back to being picked up and thrown by her abusive husband: "Grace remembered flying through the air of the house like a tiny ghost, feeling the brief safety of not being touched." And here's a snippet from another wonderfully insightful passage, describing why Martin feels so endangered by his mother's reappearance:

"Martin prattled on without pause, afraid that if Grace started talking, she would undo the present, take it apart piece by piece, make it disappear. He galloped through words, stuttering. All the time convincing himself that his mother could expose him with a story, reduce his life to the few square miles of his childhood."

At the end of the novel, our narrator tells us that both Martin and Grace are lost from the place where they understood the world, and flung into a place where the world understood them.

I'm not going to give away the plot by explaining why that's one of the most elegantly precise sentences I've ever read. To solve that mystery, you'll just have to read The Long Falling for yourself.

GROSS: Maureen Corrigan teaches literature at Georgetown University. She reviewed The Long Falling by Keith Ridgeway.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

Dateline: Maureen Corrigan; Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest:
High: Book Critic Maureen Corrigan reviews "The Long Falling," a first novel by Irish writer Keith Ridgeway.
Spec: Books; Authors; Europe; Ireland; The Long Falling
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: The Long Falling
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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