Monday, October 11, 2010

"My Brother George"

I remember Liberace from the black-and-white days of television. No “Mr. Showmanship” at that time; just a piano, a candelabra, a smile into the camera and “my brother George” playing the violin. “He wasn’t really a great pianist,” my music teacher said years ago, “but he brought great music to many people.”

Folks, it is officially all over. The Las Vegas Liberace museum has shut down. It is the end of the line for the idol of the Strip after thirty years. The gaudy man in the outrageous costumes, some of which took more than a year to construct, finally went out of style. It once drew 450,000 visitors a year; now it pulls only 50,000.

In his prime years, said foundation president Jack Rappaport, "Walter" Valentino Liberace was the highest-paid entertainer in the world, with the highest flamboyance factor to boot. He was a man who, in the midst of a battle with HIV, sold out New York's Radio City Music Hall so fast that his record still stands.

“Walter”? Actually, Wladziu. Also known as Walter Busterkeys, Walter Liberace, Lee Liberace, Liberace Chefroach, The Glitter Man, Mr Showmanship, The King of Bling.

Liberace set up a foundation to provide scholarship money to students of the arts. It has given more than $6 million to more than 2,700 students. The museum's collection includes more than 60 of Liberace's intricate eye-popping costumes, his 9-foot mirrored Baldwin grand piano and his 7-foot rhinestone studded Baldwin grand.


Anonymous RuthC said...

I have to wonder what will become of all the things that were in the museum. They were eye-popping!

What a shame.

October 22, 2010 10:27 AM  
Blogger DaveL said...

Not so much that Liberace went out of style, as much as there are generations of people who don't know who he is! I'm 55, and I remember him at the peak of his popularity in the early sixties, but, for whatever reason he is not as well remembered as the Beatles or Elvis.
The stuff in his museum is being re-configured for a traveling exhibit.

October 30, 2010 2:52 PM  

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