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Liberace Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trade Mark (4)  | Trivia (40)  | Personal Quotes (14)

Overview (5)

Born in West Allis, Wisconsin, USA
Died in Palm Springs, California, USA  (AIDS)
Birth NameWladziu Valentino Liberace
Nicknames Mr. Showmanship
Lee
The Glitter Man
Walter Busterkeys
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Most remembered for his extravagant costumes and trademark candelabra placed on the lids of his flashy pianos, Liberace was loved by his audiences for his music talent and unique showmanship. He was born as Wladziu Valentino Liberace on May 16, 1919, into a musical family, in Wisconsin. His mother, Frances Liberace (née Zuchowski), whose parents were Polish, played the piano. His father, Salvatore Liberace, an immigrant from Formia, Italy, played the French horn. His siblings, George Liberace, Angie Liberace and Rudy Liberace, also had musical ability. Liberace's own extraordinary natural talent became evident when he learned to play the piano, by ear, at the age of four. Although Salvatore tried to discourage his son's interest in the piano, praises from Ignacy Jan Paderewski, a famous Polish pianist, helped the young musician follow his musical career.

As a teenager, Liberace earned wages playing popular tunes at movie theaters and speakeasies. Despite being proud of his son's accomplishments, Salvatore strictly opposed Liberace's preference for popular music over the classics. Pianist Florence Bettray Kelly took control of Liberace's classical training when he was 14.

He debuted as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony, under the direction of Dr. Frederick Stock. At age 17, Liberace joined the Works Progress Administration Symphony Orchestra. He received a scholarship to attend the Wisconsin College of Music. In 1939, after a classical recital, Liberace's audience requested the popular tune, "Three Little Fishes". Liberace seized the opportunity and performed the tune with a semi-classical style which the audience loved. Soon, this unique style of playing the piano got Liberace bookings in large nightclubs.

By 1940, Liberace was traveling with his custom-made piano, on top of which he would place his candelabrum. He then took Paderewski's advice and dropped Wladziu and Valentino to become simply Liberace. South Sea Sinner (1950), a movie with Shelley Winters, was Liberace's film debut. He played a honky tonk pianist in the movie, which opened in 1950.

In 1952, The Liberace Show (1952), a syndicated television program, turned Liberace into a musical symbol. It began as a summertime replacement for The Dinah Shore Show (1951), but after two years, the show was one of the most popular on TV. It was carried by 217 American stations and could be seen in 20 foreign countries. Sold-out live appearances at Madison Square Garden enhanced the pianist's popularity even more. Soon, Liberace added flamboyant costumes and expensive ornaments to his already unique performances. His second movie, Sincerely Yours (1955), opened in 1955, and Liberace wrote his best-selling autobiography, "Liberace", in 1972. His first book, "Liberace Cooks", went into seven printings.

In 1977, Liberace founded the non-profit "Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts". The year 1978 brought the opening of "The Liberace Museum" in Las Vegas, Nevada, which serves as key funding for the Liberace Foundation. The profits from the museum provide scholarship money for financially needy college musicians. He continued performing until the fall of 1986, despite suffering from heart disease and emphysema during most of the 1980s. A closeted homosexual his entire life, Liberace was secretly diagnosed with AIDS sometime in August 1985, which he also kept secret from the public until the day he died. His last concert performance was at Radio City Music Hall on November 2, 1986. He passed away in his Palm Springs home on February 4, 1987 at age 67.

Liberace was bestowed with many awards during his lifetime including: Instrumentalist of the Year, Best Dressed Entertainer, Entertainer of the Year, two Emmy Awards, six gold albums, and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In The Guinness Book of World Records, he has been listed as the world's highest paid musician and pianist. Liberace was an extremely talented and versatile man. He not only played the piano, but sang, danced and joked during his performances. In fact, one of Liberace's biggest accomplishments was his ability to turn a recital into a show full of music, glitter and personality.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gilbert Lee

Trade Mark (4)

His extravagant clothes
The candlelabra that he placed on his piano
His Baldwin piano decorated with small mirrors.
His virtuoso talent on the piano

Trivia (40)

Liberace's father, Salvatore Liberace, was a French horn player for the Milwaukee Symphony.
His mother, Frances Liberace, played piano as did his sister, Angie Liberace.
His older brother, George Liberace played the violin.
At age he could play almost any tune by ear.
Classical debut was at age 14 as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony.
In high school, Liberace had a musical combo called "The Mixers".
As a young man he worked the nightclub circuit as a pianist under the name: "Walter Busterkeys".
In 1969 he was named one of the five highest paid entertainers in show business.
In the 1970s he spent at least $100,000 a year on his sparkling, brocaded, diamond and jeweled costumes.
His favorite song was "The Impossible Dream", because he truly mastered the art of believing--he made his dream come true. During his career, he earned two Emmy Awards and five of his albums sold more than a million copies, earning him a gold record for each.
Was parodied in Al Capp's comic strip, "L'il Abner", as "Loverboynik".
Many of his pianos, cars, jewelry and costumes are on display in the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas (NV), a short drive from the Las Vegas Strip. Funds from the admissions to the non-profit museum go to The Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts, which awards music scholarships.
Owned pianos previously owned by Frédéric Chopin and George Gershwin, as well as an inlaid and ormolued Louis XV desk that may have been owned by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
His final performance was on November 2, 1986, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Closed his concerts with the song "I'll Be Seeing You".
While born "Wladziu Valentino Liberace", he later changed his first name to "Walter", but his friends and relatives knew him as "Lee".
At the insistence of Polish piano virtuoso Ignacy Jan Paderewski, he dropped his first names and performed under his last name only.
As reported in the June 2001 issue "A&E Biography" Magazine, he was so vain about his baldness that he would go to bed wearing one of his hairpieces, even on hot nights. According to the same article, he once almost refused to have a facelift when the doctor asked him to take his toupee off.
In 1976, during the height of the American Bicentennial, he once performed wearing red, white and blue hot pants. It made headlines around the world.
License plate on one of his Rolls-Royces: "88 KEYS"
When he opened Las Vegas' Riviera Casino-Hotel in 1954, he was the city's highest paid entertainer. That concert was the first one where he wore extravagant costumes--in this case, a gold lame jacket.
According to his cook, his last meal was Cream of Wheat hot cereal, made with half and half, and seasoned with brown sugar.
The episodes of the television series Batman (1966) on which he guest-starred as Chandel/Harry, Batman: The Devil's Fingers (1966) and Batman: The Dead Ringers (1966), were the highest-rated in the series' history. By all accounts he got along well with the cast and crew and would play impromptu recitals at the end of each day's filming.
He owned a 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom V. This car resides in the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas (NV), and of only seven built by coachbuilder James Young that year, it is the only one with left-hand drive (the steering wheel on the American side), making it even more rare. The entire car is covered with small mirrored tiles, and with classic horses etched into them along the running boards. When he first got the car, it had a black and gray paint job. He also had a 1950s Rolls-Royce convertible painted with an American flag design.
Would often remark that he would like the viewer/audience member to "Meet my brother George".
Was parodied in several Bugs Bunny cartoons.
The phrase "I cried all the way to the bank!" was said to be first coined by him after he sued and won a $22,000 settlement from the "London Daily Mirror" in 1959.
When filming a television special in England, he made a point of learning the names of all the production crew. Years later when he returned to make another show, he was able to greet every crew member by name.
He was awarded two stars on the Hollywood (CA) Walk of Fame for Recording at 6527 Hollywood Blvd.; and for Television at 6739 Hollywood BLvd.
He is mentioned in the song "Mr. Sandman", written by Pat Ballard and famously recorded by The Chordettes, which featured the lyric "And [give him] lots of wavy hair like Liberace". He is also mentioned in the song "My Baby Just Cares for Me", written by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson, famously recorded by Nina Simone.
Shortly after his death the "London Daily Mirror" asked for a refund of the $24,000 libel settlement it had paid him in 1959.
Brother-in-law of Isabel Liberace.
He was posthumously awarded a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs (CA) Walk of Stars on January 7, 1994.
He was posthumously awarded a star on the Las Vegas (NV) Walk of Stars on February 1, 2005.
Is portrayed by Victor Garber in Liberace: Behind the Music (1988), Andrew Robinson in Liberace (1988) and Michael Douglas in Behind the Candelabra (2013).
He is brought up in Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire.".
Reported in the "Philadelphia Inquirer" that his museum closed in October 2010.
Mentioned in "The Honeymooners", in an episode where Alice wants to get a TV set and Ralph refuses, saying, "What do you want a TV set for?" and she replies, "I want to watch Liberace!".

Personal Quotes (14)

[to a critic who negatively reviewed one of his performances] Your review hurt me! I cried all the way to the bank!
Too many young performers have forgotten that the most important part of show business is not the second word, it's the first. Without the show there's no business.
[commenting on one of more famous lines] You know that bank I cried all the way to? I bought it!
[from his 1973 autobiography] Youthfulness, I guess, will always remain the thing that fans want to see in their favorite performers. They don't like to see them grow old. Possibly because it reminds them that the same thing is happening to them.
[on stage at one of his shows] I didn't get dressed like this to go unnoticed.
[about playing Radio City Music Hall in the Easter show] You can have either the Resurrection or you can have Liberace. But you can't have both.
[asked how he could play the piano while wearing so many rings] Very well, thank you.
What's better than roses on your piano? Tulips on your organ.
[at the 1982 Academy Awards] I made my greatest contribution to motion pictures years ago. I stopped making them.
[asked what he did with the money he won in a libel suit against the "London Daily Mirror" in 1959] I cried all the way to the bank!
Gee, you've been such a wonderful audience that I don't like to take your money. But I will!
Of course, I couldn't go out in the street in clothes like this, I'd get picked up. Come to think of it, it might be fun.
The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.
[to his manager Seymour Heller in late 1986] If my fans or the public ever found out that I'm gay or that I have AIDS . . . that's all they'll ever remember about me.

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