Happy Birthday, Judy celebrates legend’s life at Lafon Center

Lorna Luft

Lorna Luft is a singer, an actress, a writer and a film producer – her love of entertaining others inspired in great part by her mother, the legendary Judy Garland.

On Saturday, Oct. 1 in Luling, Luft will channel her inspiration through a tribute show to Garland celebrating the latter’s 100th birthday: Happy Birthday, Judy, in which Luft takes the audience down memory lane through a medley of her mother’s most well-known and beloved songs and by sharing stories about Garland’s life.

The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Rodney R. Lafon Performing Arts Center. It is the first show of the Lafon Center’s 2022-23 season.

Happy Birthday, Judy debuted in New York City on June 9, with Luft singing ‘Over the Rainbow’ on the staircase of the Empire State Building, a performance that included a lighting ceremony illuminating the top of the landmark in honor of Garland.

The show takes attendees through Garland’s five decades in entertainment through song and Luft’s personal stories, reminding why the legend was once dubbed the “world’s greatest entertainer.”

Garland is best known for her role as Dorothy Gale in the iconic film The Wizard of Oz. She earned a nomination for the Academy Awards’ Best Actress for her performance in A Star is Born and for Best Supporting Actress in Judgment at Nuremberg. She appeared in more than two dozen films for MGM and was a frequent on-screen partner of Mickey Rooney and Gene Kelly. At 39, she became the first female and youngest ever recipient of the Cevil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in the film industry. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked her the eighth-greatest female screen legend of classic Hollywood cinema.

She was a star of the small screen as well, hosting an Emmy-nominated television series The Judy Garland Show.

As a singer, she released eight studio albums and attained stardom as both a recording artist and on the concert stage. She was the first woman to win the Grammy for Album of the Year. Garland died at a young age, at just 46-years-old.

Like her mother, Luft made her showbiz debut at an early age, singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” on the 1963 Christmas episode of The Judy Garland Show on CBS. She joined her family’s summer concert tour in the late 60s and later made her Broadway debut in 1971 at the Shubert Theatre in the musical Promises. In 1981, she lived out a lifelong dream by performing at Carnegie Hall.

As an actress, Luft has performed in several films including Grease 2 and numerous television shows, including Murder, She Wrote, Trapper John, M.D. and the Twilight Zone.

She authored the 1998 Book Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir, which was adapted as an Emmy-winning TV miniseries called Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.

Luft is also a cancer survivor, successfully recovering after surgery to remove a brain tumor in 2018.

Tickets are $45 and can be purchased on the Lafon Center website or at the center’s box office.


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