It's not everyday we get a chance to sit down with a member of Hollywood royalty.
It was back in 1964 when the legendary Judy Garland, serenaded her youngest daughter Lorna Luft on "The Judy Garland Show." It was one of Luft's first moments in the spotlight, but it would be far from her last. Over the years, Luft has proven herself to be very much her mother's daughter performing around the world on stage, television and movies...including her beloved turn in "Grease 2."
And this holiday season, Luft will be wowing audiences right here in Seattle! She's performing in Irving Berlin's "Holiday Inn" at 5th Avenue Theatre.
In the Christmas classic, Luft plays Louise Badger, the character who helps all the other couples in the show find love.
"So, she's Cupid and she's Christmas!" Luft said. At 64, Luft is still thrilled by the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd. "I'm honored to be doing Holiday Inn," she continued. "I am honored to be singing Irving Berlin."
Among Luft's show-stopping numbers: Shaking the Blues Away, which has a special place in her heart. "I love the fact that it was introduced in my mother's film, "Easter Parade" by Ann Miller. And, I love the song because it really has a wonderful message of just shake everything away."
For Luft, shaking off the blues is part of a musical family tradition, and she learned from the very best. Luft says she never really chose to follow in her mother's fabulous footsteps, it just happened.
"I went into the family business, and I don't think that's very unusual. We grew up, in a way, in a Vaudevillian family that just traveled around. Because she [Judy Garland] went from film to film to television series to concert to concert, we grew up on the road," she explained. "And, I know people think I grew up in an odd way because of being in show business. My godfather was Frank Sinatra. But, that was my normal. I thought he went to everybody's house. I thought Humphrey Bogart went to everybody's house. I didn't know any different."
It wasn't long before Luft was performing alongside her mother's famous friends. She was 11 when she made her singing debut on The Judy Garland Christmas Special in 1963. It's also the first time Luft got to sing and dance on TV with her equally talented older sister Liza Minnelli and younger brother, Joey. For Luft, her mother's legacy is something she lovingly embraces and fiercely protects.
"I'm constantly reminded every single day that she's on my shoulder," she smiles. "A lot of people only have a still photograph of a parent they've lost. I have a library of film and television and all of that, so I am very lucky. People should remember the gifts of her films, of her concerts and of her recordings."
One of Judy Garland's priceless gifts...an iconic Christmas classic. She was the first singer to perform Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas in the 1944 classic, "Meet Me in Saint Louis". Luft says to this day, she's thrilled when she hears it.
"I was seriously down the street at Walgreens, and they're starting to play Christmas music and there was my mom singing and I thought, 'how great!' I mean, there's not a lot of people who can say they had a Christmas classic written for their family."
Speaking of family, Luft says she's still tight her her big sister, Liza, but they don't spend much time living in the past.
"When we get together, we don't talk about the old days," she said. "We talk about 'let's go to lunch, let's go to dinner, do you believe what's going on, what's happening here and all that.' It's all about how are my children, how are my grandchildren and all of that."
And though she's grateful for her moments in the spotlight, Luft says her favorite role these days is grandmother. Her son and grandchildren live in Seattle, which makes performing here over the holidays extra special.
"It's wonderful to see their little faces, and they will be coming to rehearsal. And, my granddaughter, Jordan, put on her first pair of tap shoes. We took a picture and the caption underneath said, 'Here comes another one.'"
Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn runs through December 31 at 5th Avenue Theatre.