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Wladziu Valentino Liberace
(May 16, 1919 - February 4, 1987) U.S.A.

Lee Liberace

Showman, piano entertainer, philanthropist

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Lee LiberaceWladziu Valentino Liberace (called also Lee, or Walter Valentino) was born of Italian and Polish ancestry in West Allis, Wisconsin. Despite his parents' disapproval and the ridicule he faced at school, Liberace, performing as "Walter Busterkeys," used his musical gift to help his family though the Great Depression.

Throughout the 1940s, he refined his act, adding the trademark sights and sounds that came to define Liberace: audience interaction, candelabrum, white tux and tails, bejeweled pianos, his take on pop-meets-classical-with-flare.

He became one of the most popular and controversial entertainers of the 1950s and 1960s, . With the advent of television, his career skyrocketed; and during the early 1950s, The Liberace Show was watched by more than 35 million people each week. His television exposure led to one of the most lucrative concert, nightclub, and recording careers in history.

For 3 years he had a relation with his chauffeur/assistant, Scott Thorson. Throughout his life, Liberace vehemently denied his homosexuality, famously suing publications in Britain and the United States in the late 1950s for strongly insinuating that he was gay (Britain's "Daily Mirror" described him as "a deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling... fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love"; while a "Confidential" headline announced "Why Liberace's Theme Song Should Be, Mad About The Boy !"); he won in the U.K. and settled the U.S. suit.

Lee Liberace

Despite ongoing rumors and accusations, during a heated palimony suit, Liberace denied having a sexual relationship with Scott Thorson, his live-in lover; the case settled in 1986.

In 1978 The Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, was opened. His last performance was at Radio City Music Hall, New York, on November 2, 1986. On February 4, 1987, those close to Liberace announced his death in Palm Springs, California, citing heart failure as the cause. An autopsy, however, revealed the actual cause as cytomegalovirus pneumonia, an AIDS-related illness. He was sixty-seven.

Lee Liberace
Ronnie Tober (left) with Liberace (right)

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Source: http://lgbt-history-archive.tumblr.com/ - et alii


TV:
  • The Liberace show (1952-)
Films:
  • South Sea Sinner (1950)
  • Sincerely Yours (1955)
Website: http://www.liberace.com

Books:
  • Liberace Books
  • Liberace (1972, autobiography)
  • The Things I Love (1976)
Biography:
  • Darden Asbury Pyron, Liberace: An American Boy
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