Lori Singer

Active - 1982 - 2017  |   Born - Nov 6, 1957 in Corpus Christi, Texas, United States  |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

Although many may recognize Lori Singer for her memorable turn as a rebellious preacher's daughter in Footloose and the talented cellist/dancer in the popular '80s television series Fame, many remain unaware that the woman once voted one of the "Most Beautiful People" by People Magazine is also a gifted musician and part of a remarkably talented family. Born in Corpus Christi, TX, in 1957, Singer's father Jacques was a noted symphony conductor and her mother Leslie a concert pianist. The talent in their family seemed to be hereditary: of Lori's siblings, brother Marc rose to fame in the title role of The Beastmaster (1982), Claude became a successful writer, and twin Gregory a concert violinist and a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music. (Cousin Bryan rose to fame as the director of such films as X-Men).

A childhood musical prodigy, Lori Singer took up the cello at the age of 12 and became Juilliard's youngest undergraduate two years later. At 15, she made her solo debut with the Western Washington Symphony, and, in 1980, won the Bergen Philharmonic Competition. Singer later signed with the Elite Modeling Agency. Inspired by brother Marc's success in film and television, she decided, at 17, to study acting. Her casting in the television dance-school drama Fame found Singer in a role that was seemingly made for her. Cast as a student cellist/dancer with stars in her eyes (it's rumored that the actress beat out Madonna for the role), the series was the epitome of all things '80s. Her character's desire to dance suppressed by onscreen father John Lithgow in her first feature role, Footloose became a surprise box-office smash that spawned a Broadway musical more than a decade after its theatrical release. Following up with The Falcon and the Snowman and The Man With One Red Shoe (both 1985), audiences were enraptured by the rising star's powerful combination of beauty and talent. Although such subsequent efforts as Summer Heat (1987) and Warlock (1988) ended the decade with a whimper, Singer undauntedly rounded out the '90s with memorable roles in Robert Altman's Short Cuts (for which she also contributed to the soundtrack) and as the star of the short-lived 1995 TV series VR.5 (in a role originally conceived for a man). Two years later, Singer found herself performing alongside idol Yo Yo Ma in director Atom Egoyan's Yo-Yo Ma Inspired by Bach: Sarabande. In addition to continuing to refine her passion for the cello, Singer has dedicated much of her offscreen time to aiding such efforts as The Dishes Project for Pediatric AIDS. Married to New York civil liberties attorney Richard Emery in 1980, the couple had a son before divorcing in 1996.

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  • Began playing cello as a child; enrolled at Juilliard on a scholarship in her mid-teens, around which time she performed with orchestras.
  • Worked as a fashion model prior to her 1982 television debut, which saw her portray a model in the made-for-TV movie Born Beautiful.
  • Played a young cellist on the popular 1980s TV drama Fame.
  • Made her big-screen debut as the female lead in the 1984 hit Footloose.
  • A multiyear participant in the annual "Artists vs. Writers" charity softball game held in East Hampton, NY.