Sidney Luft Biography

Michael Sidney Luft, a renowned American producer, made a significant impact on the entertainment industry by reviving his third wife’s career, the iconic Judy Garland, through the production of the film ‘A Star Is Born.’ Born in New York, Luft later ventured to Los Angeles, where he initially pursued a custom car business. However, his diverse background included stints as an amateur boxer and a bar-room brawler, earning him the nickname “One-Punch Luft.” Additionally, Luft’s experiences as both a pilot and a test pilot during the Second World War era further shaped his intriguing persona. Known for his fiery temper and a penchant for changing professions, Luft’s unique personality set him apart in the industry.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Michael Sidney Luft
  • Died At Age: 89
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Camille Keaton (m. 1993), Judy Garland (m. 1952 – div. 1965), Lynn Bari (m. 1943 – div. 1950), MaryLou Simpson (m. 1940 – div. 1942), Patti Hemingway (m. 1970 – div. 1971)
    • Father: Norbert Luft
    • Mother: Leonora (Meyers)
    • Children: Andrew Luft, Joey Luft, John Luft, Lorna Luft
  • T V & Movie Producers
  • American Men
  • Died on: September 15, 2005
  • Place of death: Santa Monica, California, United States
  • Ancestry: German American
  • Cause of Death: Heart Attack
  • City: New York City
  • U.S. State: New Yorkers

Childhood & Early Life

Sidney Luft was born on November 2, 1915, in New Rochelle, New York, US. His parents, Leonora and Norbert Luft, were Jewish immigrants from Russia and Germany. Sidney was the second child in the family and grew up with his older sister, Pol Luft. They moved to the upscale Westchester County during his childhood. Sidney was known for being belligerent and had altercations where he claimed to have broken the noses of four people. At the age of 12, the local newspaper in Westchester County even dedicated a headline to him, calling him a “Boy, 12, Walking Arsenal.” Sidney faced occasional bullying in his neighborhood due to the initial hostility towards Jews. At the age of 16, he enrolled himself at the ‘Charles Atlas’ correspondence school for bodybuilding and was believed to be able to climb stairs with his hands.


Sidney Luft had a brief success as an amateur boxer. His first taste of the entertainment industry came when he worked with the production staff of an aquacade at the age of 19. In the late 1930s, he moved to California and opened a car modification shop called ‘Custom Motors’ on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. In 1940, he joined the ‘Royal Canadian Air Force’ and later became a test pilot for ‘Douglas Aircraft’ during the Second World War. He survived a fatal crash that caused severe burns on his legs and hands. After his time in the ‘Royal Canadian Air Force,’ he moved to Los Angeles and became a personal manager/secretary for his old friend Eleanor Powell, an ‘MGM’ star dancer. This job marked his entry into Hollywood. Sidney Luft’s experience as a pilot led to him being hired as a consultant by ‘Century Fox’ for the aviation film ‘Charter Pilot’ (1940). He later became a film producer and made movies such as ‘Kilroy Was Here’ (1947) and ‘French Leave’ (1948).

In 1953, Sidney Luft’s production company ‘Transcona’ collaborated with Warner Bros. to produce the musical remake of the film ‘A Star Is Born’ (1937). Although the film received critical acclaim, it did not perform well at the box office.

Major Works

Sidney Luft worked as a producer for various films and television shows, including ‘Kilroy Was Here’ (1947), ‘French Leave’ (1948), ‘A Star Is Born’ (1954), ‘Ford Star Jubilee’ (TV series, 1955), ‘General Electric Theater’ (TV series, 1956), and ‘Judy Garland’s Hollywood’ (video documentary, 1997). He also made appearances as himself in various television shows and documentaries.

Family & Personal Life

Sidney Luft was married five times. His first marriage was to MaryLou Simpson in 1940, but they divorced in 1942. He then married actor Lynn Bari in 1943, and they had a stillborn daughter and a son named John Michael Luft. They divorced in 1950. Sidney married Judy Garland, a famous actress, in 1952. They had two children together, Joey Luft and Lorna Luft. However, their marriage ended in divorce in 1965 due to Sidney’s drug use and rumors of abuse. He later married Patti Hemingway in 1972, but they divorced in 1980. His final marriage was to Camille Keaton in 1993, and they remained married until his death.

Sidney Luft’s relationship with his daughter Lorna soured after the release of her autobiography and its subsequent miniseries adaptation. They were not on speaking terms with each other. Sidney Luft passed away on September 15, 2005, due to an apparent heart attack in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 89.


In 1993, Sidney Luft attempted to auction off the ‘Academy Award’ that Judy Garland had received in 1939 for her work in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ but a Los Angeles US district judge ordered him to pay a $60,000 fine. Actor Victor Garber portrayed Sidney Luft in the miniseries ‘Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows’ (2001).

Leave a Comment