The flamboyant pianist Liberace was a regular performer in Las Vegas, where he was also given two separate opportunities to host his own television show.
Who Was Liberace?
When he was just 16 years old, Liberace gave a solo performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Later in his career, he began doing concerts, typically including popular songs, while dressed in flashy clothes and accompanied by grandiose pianos and torches. His own television variety show, The Liberace Show, ran from 1952 until 1955 and again in 1969, and he also had appearances in movies like Truly Yours. He was quite popular (1955). Liberace was one of the most famous performers of the 20th century, and he achieved this status because of his singular combination of classical training and over-the-top theatrics. In his later years, he made regular appearances on stages in Las Vegas.
Wladziu Valentino Liberace was born on May 16, 1919, in West Allis, Wisconsin. His mother adored cinema stars, and Rudolph Valentino was a particular favorite of his mother’s. Liberace got his middle name after Rudolph Valentino. She had no idea that her son would one day amass a loyal following of his own, but she was very proud of him.
He began studying the piano at a very young age, taking after both of his musically-inclined parents who encouraged his musical development. A young prodigy, he enrolled at the Wisconsin College of Music when he was just seven years old and began his studies there. Although Liberace was still in his early teens, he began his career as a performer with orchestras.
Liberace made his income as a musician by performing in nightclubs and movie theaters. Even for a little period of time, he performed under the stage name “Walter Busterkeys.” Soon enough, Liberace discovered that he could achieve some measure of success by fusing his love of classical music with more modern melodies. His true turning point in his career, however, occurred in 1951 when the first episode of The Liberace Show was broadcast. Before expanding to other cities around the country a few years later, the musical program made its debut in Los Angeles.
The audience, which peaked at 35 million people at the height of the program’s popularity, was captivated by Liberace’s virtuosic piano playing and his boyish good looks. Liberace played the piano with tremendous aplomb and enthusiasm as his signature candelabra was perched above the instrument. The fact that Liberace was so devoted to his mother Frances was another thing that his mostly female audience liked about him. In addition to arranging his brother’s orchestral parts, George contributed to the performance by playing the violin.
In addition to his program on television, Liberace was successful in selling out a large number of his live performances and selling millions of albums. Even further, he had a starring role in the film Truly Yours, which was released in 1955 and highlighted his acting abilities. When Liberace moved to Las Vegas, he quickly rose to prominence as one of the city’s most in-demand acts and one of its highest-paid celebrities. He rose to fame not only for his singing but also for the sparkle and glamour that he brought to his performances and the clothes he wore. Elvis Presley made a guest appearance with Liberace on stage in 1956.
Yet, during this period, Liberace’s private life was thrust into the spotlight due to court proceedings. After being mocked for a long time due to his stereotypically feminine behavior, he ultimately decided to sue British media for libel after the publication insinuated that he was a homosexual. After that, Liberace prevailed in a subsequent legal struggle against a British writer who had written about his statements. Even though it was eventually established that Liberace was gay, he did everything in his power to keep this secret from his audience, which consisted primarily of women.
Even after people stopped watching his television program, Liberace continued to have a strong following during his live performances. His performances and outfits appeared to become increasingly ornate and extravagant throughout the course of his career. His hands were adorned with a lot of elaborate rings in the style of pianos, and he enveloped himself in lengthy fur capes that were rather heavy. He even drove up to the platform in one of his many expensive vehicles, where he was playing the piano. By the middle of the 1970s, Liberace made the decision to let the world have a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle he had. He turned his home in Hollywood into a museum when he moved there. After that, he opened his own museum in Las Vegas, where he showed his collection of costumes, automobiles, and other artifacts.
Final Years and Death
Once more, Liberace found himself embroiled in a battle with the law. In 1982, he was taken to court by his former bodyguard and chauffeur, Scott Thorson, who filed a lawsuit against him. Thorson said that he had been in a relationship with Liberace and that Liberace had made a commitment to look out for his well-being and provide for him throughout their time together. The dispute was eventually resolved amicably outside of court.
There were rumors going around that Liberace was suffering from AIDS right up until the time of his passing. Nonetheless, he and his crew steadfastly refuted the rumor that the artist was suffering from the condition. On February 4, 1987, Liberace passed suddenly inside of his home in Palm Springs, California. At first, the showman’s physician stated that the cause of death was claimed to be cardiac arrest. After further investigation, the coroner for Riverside County came to the conclusion that the true cause of Liberace’s death was pneumonia associated with AIDS.
Legacy and Movie
Liberace has made an indelible mark on the field of entertainment, despite the fact that some reviewers have written him off as being too emotional. The likes of Elvis Presley, Elton John, and David Bowie, to name just a few, have been said to have been influenced by his ornate and often flamboyant aesthetic. Michael Douglas took on the role of the great showman Liberace in the movie that was released in 2013 to honor his life and career.