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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:||Cast ... pianist variety show host actor author|
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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