I have always admired Liberace since I was a young teenager, watching him play the piano on TV with his brother George and their mother as part of the family show. The candelabra firmly placed on the piano, he entertained his adoring public whether it was classical or lounge music, forever smiling. The man was a triumph that all generation adored. A showman never replaced nor forgotten.
Then came the Daily Mirror sensational front page scandal of the British journalist ‘Cassandra’ brandishing him as ‘gay’ in 1956 at a time when homosexuality was illegal, horrifying the British public. However the cunning entertainer took the newspaper to court and won £8,000 damages for libel.
T’was in 1976 that I briefly met him at a Bluebell party in Vegas after one of his hotel shows. I had the honour of being introduced by my host Debbie, herself a tall willowy Bluebell dancer from Liverpool. A Liver Bird like myself. It was an all night party that began at midnight. Life in Vegas was the other side of midnight I was to quickly learn.
Liberace was dressed all in black, with a polo neck T-shirt adorned with a large turquoise and silver squash blossom Navaho necklace, a turquoise and coral buckle belt and wearing his fixed sunny smile revealing his perfect teeth. He was accompanied, bien sur, by his younger lover and constant companion who, after his death, would spill the beans as those hungry for money and fame usually do.
Liberace loved England and was the Queen Mother’s favourite so naturally he engaged me in polite but charming conversation about his love for my country. The usual safe questions like, how did I like Vegas, what had brought me to Vegas, how did I know the Bluebell Girls and how was I spending my time in the city that was 24/7.
A lovely man whose glamorous home, including a swimming pool in true ostentatious show-biz style, shaped like a piano, today is abandoned. The end of a Golden Era of a colourful larger-than-life character and individual.
Written at home in Brighton July 2019.