The Daily Wildcat interviewed actress and author Lorna Luft, who will be at the Tucson Festival of Books to promote her newest book about her mother, "A Star Is Born: Judy Garland and the Film That Got Away." The book is a history of all of the "A Star Is Born" movies with never before seen photos.
Daily Wildcat: What inspired you to write your book?
Lorna Luft: What inspired me to write my book was that I have had 700 photographs of my mother [Judy Garland] and my father’s [producer Sid Luft] movie "A Star Is Born," and I've had them for many, many years, and I wanted to share them with the public. And I wanted a book to share and have people see them, and I started this book about ten years ago, when Clint Eastwood and Beyoncé were going to make the fifth version of "A Star Is Born." And then their movie fell apart, and so did my book, so I waited and waited. And then, all of a sudden, one wonderful glorious morning I woke up and read in the newspaper: “Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are gonna do a movie,” and I said, “Bingo! Here we go.” So I called my agent and said, “Remember that proposal?” and dragged it out. Then I got a book deal, and I put out the book.
The book is about all four movies of "A Star Is Born." There were four movies before this one, so it's basically how the story started, all about the very first movie that was in 1932 called "What Price Hollywood?" and then it goes all the way through to the Barbra Streisand version. I couldn't really write about the Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga movie, because they were shooting when I was doing the book, but I want to tell you that they have been more than generous and they've been incredibly wonderful to me, both of them. They loved the history of the book, and also Warner Bros. has been just magnificent, because it's all five of their movies that I've been talking about.
DW: Why do you think people should read your book rather than just going and watching the movies?
LL: I think people should read this book because, most likely, they are going to be introduced to … my mother’s "A Star Is Born," and they will go, if they haven’t, and watch the Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga one, and they want a history of how all of this started, which lot of people like. Maybe they want to get it for their parents, or maybe they want to get it for people in their family. This is the story of why they've made five versions of this movie – and that's because it's not a movie about Hollywood, it’s a movie about human nature, and it encompasses all of the things we have all gone through. We’ve all gone through love, we’ve all gone through loss, we’ve all gone through some kind of fame. We’ve also all gone through failure, and we’ve all gone through addiction, so "A Star Is Born" encompasses all of that, so it’s not just about Hollywood, it’s about human life. And that’s why they keep making it.
DW: What is your favorite part of the book?
LL: I think my favorite part of the book is looking at all these incredible photographs that I had, photographs that nobody has seen from me on the set when I was 2 years old to all of these incredible photographs that people have not seen from my mom and my father’s movie, and plus the fact that the pictures of Janet Gaynor and Fredric March in their version and Constance Bennett in the very first version in 1932. It’s a walk through the history of "A Star Is Born."
DW: Why did you want to bring that story and that history to the Tucson Festival of Books?
LL: They asked me to, and I said, "Yes!" My daughter used to live in Phoenix, so I'm not very familiar with Tucson, but I am familiar with Phoenix. Plus I live in Palm Springs, so I'm only ten minutes down the road, as I call it, from all of you guys. I’m a fan of book fairs, and I am a fan of books, because people have a tendency … not to read, and I find that to be really sad. Any time I can promote getting out and going to a bookstore and reading a book, I will, and bookstores are closing left, right and center, and it's so vital that we have them. I love to go out to a bookstore and see what's out, and I find that very therapeutic.
DW: What would your advice be to younger writers?
LL: Write your passion. No matter if you think it's great or you don’t think it’s great, write it. At least you will never say, "I didn’t try." Whatever kind of book it is, write as a release, write for an education, write for yourself, and don’t give up. When J.K. Rowling was sitting in that little cafe called the Elephant House, writing these stories about somebody named Harry Potter, she never knew what would happen. She wrote her passion.
DW: Growing up the way you did with having famous parents and having your life in the spotlight, what was one of your favorite childhood memories?
LL: I wrote another book about that awhile ago called "Me and My Shadows." I don’t know anything different. I grew up in a very famous family, and I don’t know anything different. I don’t know what it’s like to not have a famous parent. I think you’re the product of where you come from, and I didn’t know anything. I didn’t think it was weird, I didn’t think it was odd. I didn’t think anything. That was my normal. There are many people today and there are many children today that are the children of famous people; they will tell you the exact same thing. I didn’t know anything different. That's the way it was. Was it odd to us? No. Was it odd to other people? Yes. But it wasn’t odd to us.
Lorna Luft will be presenting at the "Golden Age of Movie Musicals" panel on Saturday, March 2 at 11:30 a.m. in the Social Sciences Auditorium and the "Remembering Robin Williams and Judy Garland" panel on Sunday, March 3 at 11:30 a.m. in the UA Mall Tent.
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