Liza Minnelli recalls how her mother, Judy Garland, helped calm her down before they performed together at London’s Palladium in 1964.
“You know, other people think of her as Judy Garland,” says Liza, who was 18 at the time. “[But] my mom was my mom. … If I got frightened, I’d look at her, and she would somehow know, and she would calm me down. Just by her look.”
Today, the Wizard of Oz star would have been 100. Her three children, including Lorna and Joey Luft, want the world to join them in celebrating a woman blessed with talent, a sharp wit, and a huge heart.
“I thought she was perfect,” Liza, 76, says. “Every little thing she did — perfect.”
At home with her family, Judy could be merry and playful. She liked to sing with her children and taught them to always look on the bright side. “I remember having a lot of fun with her when we were alone together,” says Joey, 67, whose father was Judy’s third husband, Sid Luft.
“She had a great sense of humor,” Lorna, 69, agrees. “She was very, very smart and very witty. … That was her survival guide. That is what has been my lifeline to ‘find the funny,’” Lorna says. “She would ‘find the funny’ in every situation.”
In the last decades of her life, Judy toured constantly. Liza, the child of Judy’s marriage to director Vincente Minnelli, was already on her own, but Lorna and Joey traveled with her.
“We were a little bit like gypsies. We lived in London, Paris, New York. We lived wherever she was making a film,” recalls Lorna. “It was hard. But she made everything into a game. She was very aware of our feelings. When we moved around, it always became a game and an adventure.”
During her lifetime, Judy weathered unhappy marriages, financial difficulties and a prescription drug dependency that ended her life prematurely in 1969, but she didn’t ever feel sorry for herself.
“I once came upon a book in her office. It was a big red-leather book that had gold trimming. There were awful things in it — newspaper clippings of tornados and storms. I said to her, ‘Mom, what is this?’” remembers Lorna. “She said, ‘Oh, that’s my tragedy book. When you think you have problems, look at what happened to these people.’”
More than anything, Judy tried to raise her kids to have empathy and consideration for others. “She taught us values. She thought the most important thing is to be kind to another human being,” recalls Lorna. “She said, ‘Never think that you are better than another person. You must treat everyone on an equal basis and accept that people are different.’”
In her too brief lifetime, Judy embraced the whole world, yet her heart belonged to her children. “There are so many interviews where she was asked, ‘Why do you work so hard?’” recalls Joey. “She’d always say, ‘It’s for my children.’”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Closer Weekly.