LIBERACE: A Biography by Bob Thomas

LIBERACE: A Biography

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Mama's boy and master of pianism by candelabra, Liberace lends himself to a better-than-usual Thomas celebio."" Mr. Showmanship,"" born as 13-pound surviving twin Wladziu Valentino Liberace in Milwaukee, early showed himself a pianistic Wunderkind, won many prizes and a 17-year scholarship. In his teem, Liberace underwent speech-training to rid himself of dese and doses, acquired slow-paced velvety tones to match hits pianism. While playing ragtime in roadhouses to support the family, he was seduced at 16 by a lusty, busty blues singer. That may have been his last female bedmate, although he often escorted women about as a beard for his homosexuality. Like fellow gay Rock Hudson, he lived a double life until his death by AIDS in 1986. Aside from a kind of innate though shallow genius, Liberace's tremendous drive and limitless showmanship stemmed in large part from his early love for Claude Bristors The Magic of Believing, a self-confidence guide that became Lee's bible (he was a non, practicing Catholic). Before every show he would psyche himself up with Bristol, talk to himself in the wings or in the mirror, asking, ""Are you better than Horowitz?' (The answer, modestly, was, ""No, but I can do some things better than he can."") His early television show, featuring Lee speaking directly to hits mother and his brother George and indirectly to all the mamas in America, became a fantastic hit and left him a millionaire many times over. On tour in England, he received such savage reviews that he sued the racy tabloid Daily Mirror and its vicious reviewer Cassandra (a man), who called Lee's music ""fruit-flavored."" The case was a rave, gathering floods of ink in the British papers as Lee took the stand in his own behalf and won. He later sued the US scandal monthly Confidential and won that case too. Later, he was sued for palimony when--after a five-year affair--he kicked out his 23-year-old lover, and won that as well (the court said the lover had essentially sold himself as a prostitute, was not a ""pal""). Lively and entertaining, with a few cadenzas pathÉtique.

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 1987
Publisher: St. Martin's