Liberace : The Worlds Greatest Showman Talented, charming, wonderful and flamboyant all of these characterize the amazing Liberace who became an entertainment sensation headlining and selling out shows for almost fifty years. This biography tracks the lifetime of this amazing man who brought song, laughter and beauty to the world with his music and his collections of art and antiquities.
Liberace : The Worlds Greatest Showman Władziu Valentino Liberace[nb 1] (May 16, 1919 – February 4, 1987) was an American pianist, singer and actor. A child prodigy born in Wisconsin to parents of Italian and Polish origin, Liberace enjoyed a career spanning four decades of concerts, recordings, television, motion pictures, and endorsements. At the height of his fame, from the 1950s to the 1970s, Liberace was the highest-paid entertainer in the world, with established concert residencies in Las Vegas, and an international touring schedule. Liberace embraced a lifestyle of flamboyant excess both on and off stage, acquiring the nickname “Mr. Showmanship”.
Liberace began playing the piano at age four. While Sam took his children to concerts to further expose them to music, he was also a taskmaster demanding high standards from the children in both practice and performance. Liberace’s prodigious talent was evident from his early years. By age seven, he was capable of memorizing difficult pieces. He studied the technique of the Polish pianist Ignacy Paderewski. At age eight, he met Paderewski backstage after a concert at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. “I was intoxicated by the joy I got from the great virtuoso’s playing. My dreams were filled with fantasies of following his footsteps…Inspired and fired with ambition, I began to practice with a fervor that made my previous interest in the piano look like neglect.” Paderewski later became a family friend
During this time, Liberace worked to refine his act. He added the candelabrum as his trademark, inspired by a similar prop in the Chopin biopic A Song to Remember (1945). He adopted “Liberace” as his stage name, making a point in press releases that it was pronounced “Liber-Ah-chee.” He wore white tie and tails for better visibility in large halls. Besides clubs and occasional work as an accompanist and rehearsal pianist, Liberace played for private parties, including those at the Park Avenue home of millionaire oilman J. Paul Getty. By 1947, he was billing himself as “Liberace—the most amazing piano virtuoso of the present day.” He had to have a piano to match his growing presence, so he bought a rare, oversized, gold-leafed Blüthner Grand, which he hyped up in his press kit as a “priceless piano.” (Later, he performed with an array of extravagant, custom-decorated pianos, some encrusted with rhinestones and mirrors.) He moved to the Los Angeles neighborhood of North Hollywood in 1947 and was performing at local clubs, such as Ciro’s and The Mocambo, for stars such as Rosalind Russell, Clark Gable, Gloria Swanson, and Shirley Temple. He did not always play to packed rooms, and he learned to perform with extra energy to thinner crowds, to maintain his own enthusiasm.