Judy Garland at 100: Late ‘Wizard of Oz’ star’s children reveal how they’re keeping the actress’s legacy alive


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Judy Garland’s children are determined to keep the late “Wizard of Oz” star’s legacy alive.

The actress, who was one of the top box office film stars of the ‘40s and was twice nominated for an Oscar, died June 22, 1969, at age 47 from an accidental barbiturate overdose. She would have turned 100 June 10.

The screen star’s children — Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft and Joey Luft — have teamed up with perfume developer Vincenzo Spinnato to release “Judy – A Garland Fragrance.” They said it pays tribute to Garland, who never left her home without spraying her favorite scent.

“I … wanted to capture what my mother wore so that every person wearing it would feel her warmth,” Lorna, 69, told People magazine Thursday.

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American actress and singer Judy Garland (1922-1969) as Dorothy Gale in “The Wizard of Oz,” 1939. 
(Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“Actually, Lorna came up with the idea for creating a fragrance to honor my mom on what would have been her 100th birthday,” Minnelli, 76, explained. “I entrusted Lorna with the many details necessary, but she kept me informed, and when the time came to smell the final unisex fine fragrance, it definitely smelled like mama.

“Sometimes I feel like she continues to watch over and guide us,” the performer continued. “And she must have channeled her thoughts to Vince as well, as he created the right fragrance for her. It is wonderful to celebrate our mother’s legacy in this special way. She would have been thrilled.”

The women told the outlet they have fond memories of Garland, who charmed her children with humor.

“There are so many wonderful memories of mama — for all three of us kids, Lorna, Joey and myself,” said Minnelli. “It would be hard to pick just one memory as she was always interesting, engaging and so very funny. Humor was her secret weapon.”

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American actress and singer Liza Minnelli with her mother, American actress and singer Judy Garland (1922-1969), backstage after she opened in "Flora the Red Menace" at the Alvin Theatre, New York, circa 1965.

American actress and singer Liza Minnelli with her mother, American actress and singer Judy Garland (1922-1969), backstage after she opened in “Flora the Red Menace” at the Alvin Theatre, New York, circa 1965.
(Regan/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“I have 16 years of favorite memories,” Lorna said. “I have a lifetime of her legacy that I can watch and listen to of her work. I consider myself very lucky and am incredibly grateful to be her daughter.”

In August 2021, the women stressed that while the former child star’s life was often tumultuous, she also enjoyed plenty of joyous moments with her loved ones.

“Yes, she had tragedies in her life, but she wasn’t tragic,” Lorna told Closer Weekly at the time.

“I remember having a lot of fun with her when we were alone,” Garland’s son Joey recalled.

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Actress Judy Garland with her son Joseph Luft.

Actress Judy Garland with her son Joseph Luft.
(Getty Images)

“One of the biggest misconceptions about my mama was that she didn’t provide me with a happy childhood,” Minnelli said. “There were highs and lows, for sure, but I can say I was very happy.”

Minnelli noted that Garland was “protective and very strict” as a parent, but also “very funny” and “incredibly intelligent.”

And when Minnelli was feeling down, it was her mother who lifted her spirits.

“My fondest memory of my mama was the conversations we had,” Minnelli reflected. “As a teenager, I became her best friend and confidante. We would laugh and talk for hours.”

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During a performance, Judy Garland holds her daughter Lorna Luft up to the microphone.

During a performance, Judy Garland holds her daughter Lorna Luft up to the microphone.
(Getty Images)

Minnelli even shared that she still feels her mother’s presence today.

“When I call on her, she’s there,” said the star. “And I call on her a lot.”

In March 2021, ‘40s child star Margaret O’Brien spoke to Fox News Digital about what it was like working with Garland in the 1944 musical “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

Garland married the film’s director, Vincente Minnelli, in 1945. The union lasted until 1951.

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From left: Lorna Luft, Joey Luft and Liza Minnelli arrive for the 86th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland Center March 2, 2014, in Hollywood.  

From left: Lorna Luft, Joey Luft and Liza Minnelli arrive for the 86th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland Center March 2, 2014, in Hollywood.  
(Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

“Oh, she was so wonderful,” the 84-year-old said at the time. “She really was. She was just wonderful with children. She was childlike herself. She loved to jump rope on set with the other children. She always was making me laugh. I just loved her.”

In the film, Garland’s character, Esther Smith, is known for singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to her brokenhearted sister Tootie (O’Brien). The family was gearing up to leave behind their beloved St. Louis home for New York.

However, O’Brien said Garland initially refused to sing the song, which continues to be a holiday favorite decades later.

“The original lyrics were very dark and drab, which I guess fit the scene because we were supposed to be sad,” said O’Brien. “But Judy said, ‘I can’t sing this to little Margaret! She’ll cry, and everyone will think I’m a monster.'”

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Margaret O'Brien (left) and Judy Garland in "Meet Me in St. Louis."

Margaret O’Brien (left) and Judy Garland in “Meet Me in St. Louis.”
(Getty Images)

Film producers refused Garland’s request to revise the lyrics, NPR reported. According to the outlet, it was co-star Tom Drake who took songwriter Hugh Martin aside and encouraged him to make the change. Martin later said he went home and wrote a more hopeful version of the song that was used in the film. 

The track would resonate with American troops serving overseas during World War II. Garland later sang it live at the Hollywood Canteen, a club for servicemen.

“Thank goodness they lightened up those lyrics,” said O’Brien. “Of course, that’s what made it such a classic song. It’s still heard every year during the holidays. And we can thank Judy for that.”

O’Brien said that “Meet Me in St. Louis” held a special place in Garland’s heart.

“There was a romance with Vincente Minelli,” she said. “And from their romance came Liza Minnelli. So, of course, the film held wonderful memories for Judy. Vincente was a very kind director who was easy to work with. He made sure that the studio didn’t overwork Judy and that she had reasonable hours.

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Judy Garland sang "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" to Margaret O'Brien.

Judy Garland sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to Margaret O’Brien.
(Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

“Unfortunately, other directors overworked Judy,” she shared. “But he protected her. And he made sure that we had a happy, calm set with good hours. And he made sure Judy got plenty of rest. She was always very happy on set. I never saw her sad or nervous or anything like that while filming. It was a positive experience for all of us.”

O’Brien said she and Garland kept in touch over the years.

“The last time I spoke to her was at a big Hollywood dinner,” said O’Brien. “She saw me, came over and said, ‘Oh, hello Margaret! How are you?’ Every time we saw each other, it was as if we hadn’t been apart. I’m now very good friends with her children, especially her son. They all turned out to be very sweet, wonderful people. You can just tell how much those children love their mother. I certainly loved her, and I just worked with her. She was a truly special person. And I never forgot her.”



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