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Also Known As: Lee Liberace, Walter Liberace, Walter Busterkeys, Wladziu Valentino Liberace Died: February 4, 1987
Born: May 16, 1919 Cause of Death: AIDS-related Complications
Birth Place: West Allis, Wisconsin, USA Profession: pianist, variety show host, actor, author

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The highest-paid entertainer in the world for nearly two decades, Liberace earned the title "Mr. Showmanship" for his crowd-pleasing act, which blended masterful piano playing with witty banter and over-the-top glamour. Classically trained and rising through the supper club circuit, Liberace became a top draw in the 1950s, notching $50,000 a week for his Vegas shows. His TV series "The Liberace Show" (syndicated, 1953-54) cemented his massive popularity with women, who responded to his gentle nature and rhinestone-soaked flamboyance. While he never ignited as a film draw despite his star turn in "Sincerely Yours" (1955), Liberace remained an incredibly popular television figure whose shameless self-promotion and shilling of products only endeared him more to fans, who appreciated his up-by-his-bootstraps pluck. Plagued by rumors and hit with a 1982 palimony suit for $113 million by his limo driver/bodyguard and alleged lover Scott Thorson, Liberace steadfastly denied his homosexuality all his life. He died at the age of 67 on Feb. 4, 1987 due to AIDS-related complications, although he never publicly admitted being sick. Thorson's 1987 tell-all Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace revealed...

The highest-paid entertainer in the world for nearly two decades, Liberace earned the title "Mr. Showmanship" for his crowd-pleasing act, which blended masterful piano playing with witty banter and over-the-top glamour. Classically trained and rising through the supper club circuit, Liberace became a top draw in the 1950s, notching $50,000 a week for his Vegas shows. His TV series "The Liberace Show" (syndicated, 1953-54) cemented his massive popularity with women, who responded to his gentle nature and rhinestone-soaked flamboyance. While he never ignited as a film draw despite his star turn in "Sincerely Yours" (1955), Liberace remained an incredibly popular television figure whose shameless self-promotion and shilling of products only endeared him more to fans, who appreciated his up-by-his-bootstraps pluck. Plagued by rumors and hit with a 1982 palimony suit for $113 million by his limo driver/bodyguard and alleged lover Scott Thorson, Liberace steadfastly denied his homosexuality all his life. He died at the age of 67 on Feb. 4, 1987 due to AIDS-related complications, although he never publicly admitted being sick. Thorson's 1987 tell-all Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace revealed colorful details about the entertainer's life, inspiring a feature film of the same name (HBO, 2013), directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Matt Damon as Thorson and Michael Douglas as Liberace. Although modern audiences may not have appreciated just how massively influential and popular he was during his lifetime, Liberace singlehandedly wrote one of the most impressively outrageous American Dream stories of all time, conquering the world in his inimitably glamorous style.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Special People (1984) Himself
2.
 When the Boys Meet the Girls (1965) Himself
3.
 The Loved One (1965) Mr. Starker
4.
 Sincerely Yours (1955) Anthony Warrin
5.
6.
 South Sea Sinner (1950) Maestro
9.
 Lily -- Sold Out (1981)
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began piano lessons at age four
:
Debuted as piano soloist with Chicago Symphony at 20
1945:
Changed stage name to Liberace
1950:
Made film debut with small role in melodrama "South Sea Sinner"
1951:
Performed on local TV program in Los Angeles area
1952:
Hosted 15-minute summer series "The Liberace Show" (NBC)
1953:
Hosted popular syndicated variety program "The Liberace Show"
1955:
Played leading role in Warner Bros. feature "Sincerely Yours"
1965:
Returned to films after 10-year absence to play featured roles in "The Loved One" and "When the Boys Meet the Girls"
1969:
Hosted CBS summer variety series "The Liberace Show"
1976:
Founded the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts
1979:
Opened The Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, NV
1985:
Last TV special, "Liberace with the London Philharmonic Orchestra," a broadcast of 1983 concert filmed at London's Wembley Centre
1986:
Gave final performance at Radio City Music Hall in NYC
1987:
Tell-all book <i>Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace</i> published by long-term bodyguard, limo driver, and alleged ex-lover Scott Thorson
1988:
Subject of two made-for-TV movies, ABC's "Liberace" (starring Andrew Robinson) and CBS' "Liberace: Behind the Music" (starring Victor Garber)
1991:
Portrayed by actor Willie Collins in comedy spoof "Hot Shots!"
2010:
Liberace Museum in Las Vegas closed
2013:
Portrayed by Michael Douglas in Steven Soderbergh directed HBO film "Behind the Candelabra"; Matt Damon cast as Scott Thorson
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Scott Thorson. Was Liberace's lover and employer for a number of years; sued Liberace in 1982 but case was thrown out after two years.

Family close complete family listing

brother:
George Liberace. Bandleader, violinist, comic. Worked with his brother during the early days of his career as bandleader of Liberace's orchestra, featured violinist and comic foil; died October 1983.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Liberace Cooks! Recipes From His Seven Dining Rooms"
"Liberace"
"The Things I Love"
"Liberace: An American Boy" University of Chicago
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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