Lori Singer

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Lori Singer
Lori Singer (2014).jpg
Singer in 2014
Born (1957-11-06) November 6, 1957 (age 62)
EducationLincoln High School
Alma materJuilliard School
  • Actress
  • cellist
Years active1982–present
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[1]
(m. 1980; div. 1996)
Parent(s)Jacques Singer
Leslie Wright
RelativesMarc Singer (brother)

Lori Singer (born November 6, 1957) is an American actress, cellist, and former model. The daughter of conductor Jacques Singer, she was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, and raised in Portland, Oregon, where her father served as the lead conductor of the Oregon Symphony from 1962 to 1972. Singer was a musical prodigy, making her debut as a cellist with the Oregon Symphony at thirteen, and was subsequently accepted to the Juilliard School, where she became the institution's youngest graduate.

In the early 1980s, she signed with Elite Model Management before shifting her focus to acting. She was cast as Julie Miller, a teenage dancer and cellist, in the television series Fame, in which she appeared between 1982 and 1983. Singer gained notice for her lead role as Ariel Moore in the musical drama film Footloose (1984). She was later cast in supporting roles in John Schlesinger's drama The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), the comedy The Man with One Red Shoe (1985), the horror film Warlock (1989), and Robert Altman's ensemble drama Short Cuts (1993).

Early life[edit]

Singer was born November 6, 1957[2] in Corpus Christi, Texas,[3] to Jacques Singer, a Polish-born conductor and protégé of Leopold Stokowski, and Leslie (née Wright), a concert pianist.[4] She has a fraternal twin brother, Gregory, a violinist; and two older brothers: actor Marc, and Claude.[2][4] At the time of her birth, Singer's father was working as the conductor of the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra. Singer is of Jewish descent.[5]

When Singer was four years old, she relocated with her family to Portland, Oregon, where her father served as lead conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra from 1962 to 1972.[6] Singer spent her formative years in Portland, and made her debut as soloist at the age of thirteen with the Oregon Symphony.[6] She attended Lincoln High School in Portland.[7] In the summer of 1971, Singer and brother Gregory attended a summer music camp in New York led by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.[7]

Singer was accepted into the Juilliard School at age fourteen,[4] where she became the youngest graduate of the institution.[2] After graduating from Juilliard, Singer performed with the Western Washington University Symphony Orchestra.[3]


1980–2006: Acting career[edit]

With the Kids from "Fame" (1983). Singer is in center, behind Debbie Allen

After completing her studies at Juilliard, Singer signed with Elite Modeling Agency.[2] She continued to perform as a concert soloist, and in 1980 won the Bergen Philharmonic Competition.[2] She subsequently shifted her focus to acting, inspired by her brother, Marc.[1] Commenting on her decision to pursue a career as an actress, she said: "In a world where such terrible things are happening, it's just so fantastic to become someone else."[1] In 1982, Singer was cast as Julie Miller, a shy high school student, in the television series Fame, and appeared in the first two seasons.[2] The role of Miller, a teenage dancer and cellist, was written specifically for Singer's talents. In 1983, she and a number of other cast members—under the group name the Kids from "Fame"—performed a live concert at Royal Albert Hall, which was recorded and released as a live album.[8]

Singer with Bruce Abbott in Summer Heat (1987)

After starring as Ariel Moore, the female lead in Footloose (1984),[9] she starred in a number of other movies, including The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) and The Man with One Red Shoe (1985). Her role in Trouble in Mind (1985) led to her nomination for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead.

Singer has also had roles in Equinox (1992), Summer Heat (1987), Warlock (1989), Sunset Grill (1993), F.T.W. (1994), and the Robert Altman film Short Cuts (1993). She was awarded a Golden Globe as an actor for "Best Ensemble" for Short Cuts.

The Short Cuts cast won awards for best ensemble at the 50th Venice International Film Festival and the 51st Golden Globe Awards. She also won Newcomer of the Year at ShoWest for her role in the TV movie Born Beautiful (1982). In 1995, she played Sydney Bloom, the lead character in the science fiction TV series VR.5. In addition to her acting, she produced Summer Heat and was involved in the creative conception of VR.5.

In 1997, Singer acted in the fourth episode of the series Inspired by Bach, where she also played the cello with Yo-Yo Ma, whose summer music camp she had attended in 1971.

2007–present: Music and other endeavors[edit]

Singer performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall in January 2008, premiering a hymn written by Karl Jenkins in memory of Martin Luther King Jr.[10]

On May 4, 2011, Singer returned to television with a guest-starring role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

In 2013, Singer executive produced with Sheila Nevins, HBO, and Jessica Kingdon the documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, directed by Alex Gibney. In 2012 the film won the Grierson Award at the London Film Festival and it also won the Chicago International Film Festival's award. In 2013, the film won the Best Feature Documentary category in the Irish Film and Television Awards. In the United States, the film was nominated for five prime-time Emmy awards; it won three: "Exceptional Merit in Documentary Film Making", "Outstanding Writing", and "Best Editor". The film was short-listed for the Academy Awards in 2013 and was nominated for a Writers Guild Award. In 2014 the documentary was awarded a Peabody Award.

Personal life[edit]

Singer married lawyer Richard David Emery in 1980.[11] They had a son together before divorcing in 1996.[3]


Year Film Role Notes Ref.
1983 Born Beautiful Jodi Belcher Television film
ShoWest Newcomer of the Year Award
1984 Footloose Ariel Moore ShoWest Breakthrough Performer of the Year Award [1]
1985 The Falcon and the Snowman Lana [1]
1985 The Man with One Red Shoe Maddy [1]
1985 Trouble in Mind Georgia [1]
1987 Made in U.S.A. Annie
1987 Summer Heat Roxie
1989 Warlock Kassandra
1990 Storm and Sorrow Molly Higgins Television film
1992 Equinox Sharon Ace
1993 Sunset Grill Loren
1993 Short Cuts Zoe Trainer
1994 F.T.W. Scarlett Stuart
1997 Sarabande Short film
2005 Little Victim Tracy Short film
2013 Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God N/A Executive producer, Peabody Award winning documentary film
2015 Experimenter Florence Asch
2017 God Knows Where I Am Linda Bishop Narration; voice role


Year Film Role Notes Ref.
1982–1983 Fame Julie Miller NBC Television series
1990 American Playhouse Therese Episode: "Sensibility and Sense"
1995 VR.5 Sydney Bloom Television series
1997 Inspired by Bach Dr. Angela France Episode: "Bach Cello Suite #4: Sarabande"
2011 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Dede Aston Television series (Season 12, Episode 22)

Music videos[edit]

Year Song Artist Notes Ref.
1987 Heartbeat Don Johnson


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Klemesrud, Judy (August 2, 1985). "Lori Singer Breaks Free of Teen Roles with 'Shoe'". Sun-Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Archived from the original on April 1, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Lori Singer". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Lori Singer Biography". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 9, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c Mann, Roderick (February 1, 1986). "Lori Singer Still Has Her Music". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. Archived from the original on April 1, 2020.
  5. ^ "Celebrities: Jake Gyllenhaal". Jewish United Fund. Retrieved September 30, 2020. The Gyllenhaal brother-and-sister acting team reminds of another sibling pair of Jewish actors, Marc and Lori Singer.
  6. ^ a b Long, Genevieve J. "Making "Good Music" The Oregon Symphony and Music Director Jacques Singer, 1962–1971". History Cooperative. Archived from the original on April 1, 2020.
  7. ^ a b English, Jeryme (December 10, 1971). "Post Concert Supper". Statesman Journal. Salem, Oregon. p. 13 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Oh Boy. "Girl Groups" and More". New York. Vol. 16 no. 42. October 24, 1983. p. 15. ISSN 0028-7369 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ "Lori Singer Interview: Looking Back at Footloose, 2010", Fame (Movies and TV Series) Directory
  10. ^ "DCINY's Inaugural 2008 Concert". dciny.org. Archived from the original on September 13, 2011.
  11. ^ "Actress Sues Famed Lawyer–Hubby for $20M", New York Post. Retrieved February 27, 2013.[dead link]

External links[edit]