Joey Luft remembers it well -- appearing on the 1963 Christmas episode of his mother Judy Garland's CBS musical-variety series with his two older sisters, Lorna Luft and Liza Minnelli.
Recently, Luft was rewatching the show, his eyes wide and a smile dancing across his face as his younger self broke into "Where Is Love?" on the classic yuletide show.
"She opened the show with 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,' " says the 59-year-old Luft, a slight man who is a bundle of energy. "Our living room (of the Lufts' house) on Rockingham Avenue was copied, so the Christmas show looked like our living room."
Though half-sister Minnelli, who is an Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Grammy award winner, and Lorna Luft have followed in their mother's footsteps, their baby brother has largely lived out of the public eye.
"I've been more behind the camera," says Luft, who has studied photography and sound and has worked as a kind of editor-runner.
Though he may not be famous, "I have a life that has been fascinating," says Luft, who appeared with his siblings at the Oscars in March for a 75th anniversary tribute to "The Wizard of Oz," the 1939 classic that made Garland a star. "I can tell stories for days."
He recently got the opportunity to tell the stories about his mother in "A Judy Garland Concert With Joey Luft," which played July 10-13 at the Pasadena Playhouse.
The evening featured colorized footage from "The Judy Garland Show" of the legend performing such standards as "Stormy Weather," "Come Rain or Come Shine" and of course "Over the Rainbow." In between clips, Luft and the show's producer, John Kimble, his childhood friend and longtime associate of his late father, producer Sid Luft, talked about Garland.
"It's just so fun just getting out there and talking about her and letting people know, 'Here's what really happened,' " says Luft in an interview at Kimble's Culver City home.
"I don't want to talk about the bad things," adds Luft, who was 14 in 1969 when his mother died of an overdose of barbiturates. "That isn't what my mom was about. She was a performer. She was a mother. She loved people. She was the most caring person. She had the greatest sense of humor."
Luft stands up to imitate his mother when she guest-starred on NBC's "The Jack Paar Show." "He introduces my mom, and she comes onstage with a broom," says Luft, as he mimes sweeping the floor. "She puts the broom down and walks over and sits down with Jack and says, 'People told me I would clean up in this business.' "
The story leads to another memory of watching a hockey game with Lorna and Garland in his mother's bedroom. "My mom was kind of tired, and she looked kind of frustrated," says Luft. "I said. 'How do you feel?' She looks at us, walks over to the TV and she goes, 'How do I feel? See that hockey game? You know the puck? That's how I feel.' And she walks off. Then we started laughing."
His father, Garland's third husband, is credited with resurrecting her career after she was fired from MGM in 1950. He colorized the black-and-white "Judy Garland Show" before his death in 2005 at the age of 89.
"It took us years and years to do because there was so much detail and so much work to go into it," says Luft. "My dad spent so much money that, near the end of his life, he went broke because he put so much into it. He wanted to put a show together."
Kimble says, "We have cleaned up all the audio, and made it look like it was shot yesterday."
Kimble adds that they have booked a fall tour of the show in Canada. The Pasadena Playhouse performances also had an exhibit of rare photos from Garland's life and career, as well as Michael Siewert's collection of costumes from many of her classic films.
Luft hopes his show will keep the memory of his mother and her talent alive for years to come.
"They know 'The Wizard of Oz,' but people don't even know Judy," says Luft, who adds that he can listen to her recordings for hours. "The show is to educate people and show who she was and what she did and what she was all about -- one of the world's greatest entertainers."