Family & Companions
After starting her career as a concert cellist, ethereal actress Lori Singer made the smooth transition to the screen with a handful of supporting parts that later helped her land leading roles. Singer came to acting via Juilliard and a brief stint as a fashion model, before making her series debut as a naïve Midwesterner trying to make good in the big city on the short-lived drama "Fame" (NBC, 1982-83). But her leading role in the hit movie, "Footloose" (1984) helped propel her career to greater heights. Singer next delivered co-starring performances in "The Falcon and the Snowman" (1985) and "The Man with One Red Shoe" (1985), while earning critical praise for her turn in the otherwise mediocre noir "Summer Heat" (1987). Following appearances in little-seen indies like "Equinox" (1992) and "Sunset Grill" (1993), Singer gave arguably one of her finest performances as a depressed cellist in Robert Altman's excellent ensemble drama, "Short Cuts" (1993). Following a brief return to series television with "VR.5" (Fox, 1995), Singer left the acting business altogether in order to refocus on performing music, only to re-emerge in 2011 with a guest starring performance on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ), which sparked renewed interest in the enigmatic actress' career.
Born on Nov. 6, 1957 in Corpus Christi, TX, Singer was raised by her father, Jacques Singer, an orchestra conductor and former student of Leopold Stokowski, and her mother, Leslie, a concert pianist. Her older brother Marc Singer would go on to achieve his own success as an actor, most notably as the lead hero in the feature "The Beastmaster" (1982) and the miniseries phenomenon "V" (NBC, 1983) and "V: The Final Battle" (NBC, 1984). Because of their father's chosen profession, the family moved about the country often, taking up residence in Oregon, Louisiana and New York. Growing up in the presence of such classical music heavyweights as Leonard Bernstein, she began studying music at age five and a decade later enrolled at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music in New York City. While a student, Singer played cello with such world-renowned ensembles as the Caracas Symphony and the Oregon Symphony, and later won the Bergen Philharmonic Competition in 1980. Two years later, she segued into acting with her television debut as a teenage fashion model befriended by a veteran (Erin Gray) in the made-for-TV movie "Born Beautiful" (NBC, 1982). That same year, Singer combined her love of music with her newfound acting path by playing Julie Miller, a promising young cellist from the Midwest who faces the difficulties of life at a New York City high school for performing artists in the small screen version of "Fame" (NBC, 1982-83).
Singer graduated to the big screen as the rebellious daughter of a minister (John Lithgow) in the popular "Footloose" (1984), starring Kevin Bacon as a big city kid who moves to a conservative small town and causes a frenzy with his gyrating dance moves. She followed with a girlfriend role in John Schlesinger's well-made thriller, "The Falcon and the Snowman" (1985), about a bright young man (Timothy Hutton) hired by the CIA, who is convinced by his con artist best friend (Sean Penn) to sell top-secret information to the Soviet embassy in Mexico. Singer also appeared in Alan Rudolph's neo noir "Trouble in Mind" (1985), and the middlebrow comedy "The Man with One Red Shoe" (1985), starring Tom Hanks and Dabney Coleman. Attempting a change of pace, she won praise as a disaffected wife who embarks on an affair in "Summer Heat" (1987), a film that riffed on the superior "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946). After a supporting turn in the stylish indie noir, "Equinox" (1992), Singer was an alluring assistant who runs across a hard-drinking private investigator (Peter Weller) in the nourish mystery, "Sunset Grill" (1993).
Director Robert Altman provided Singer with another meaty role in "Short Cuts" (1993), in which she portrayed an emotionally-disturbed cellist living with her embittered jazz singer mother (Annie Ross) next door to a couple (Bruce Davison and Andie MacDowell) facing the tragic loss of their son (Zane Cassidy). She next played an auto repair mechanic who becomes involved with an ex-con rodeo rider (Mickey Rourke) while hiding out after a bank robbery leaves eight cops dead in the little-seen indie crime drama, "F.T.W." (1994). Singer returned to the regular series grind for the short-lived sci-fi fantasy "VR.5" (Fox, 1995), playing a young woman who enters a surrealistic virtual reality world. After 10 episodes, the series was cancelled and Singer disappeared from acting practically altogether, appearing only as a fictional cellist in a semi-fictional part of the anthology "Inspired by Bach" (1997). Having disappeared from the screen to focus on her music - most notably a 2008 solo concert at Carnegie Hall honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Singer made a surprise return to television with a 2011 guest starring role on the perennial procedural, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ).
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Special)
While still a student at Juilliard, won Bergen Philharmonic Competition
Played cellist Julie Miller on the NBC TV series "Fame"
TV debut in the NBC telefilm "Born Beautiful"
Screen debut, "Footloose"
Returned to series TV in the short-lived sci-fi series "VR.5" (Fox)