Gay Thursday -- 5/26
This week, on Gay Thursday, we look at the life and times of Liberace! Liberace was an amazing musical talent who brought joy, happiness, and lots of color to the world. What better personality for this feature?
Born in West Allis, Wisconsin in 1919, Wladziu (Polish for Walter) Valentino Liberace was one of the four children of Salvatore and Frances Liberace.
Wladziu receive a scholarship to the Wisconsin College of Music. His debut was at age 14 as soloist with the Chicago Symphony.
In 1940, his night club dates took him to the Persian Room in New York's Plaza Hotel as an intermission pianist. Seven years later, he returned with his own oversized grand piano and his first trademark, a glittering candelabra. Acting on Paderewski's early advice, Liberace dropped his first two names, opting to use the elegant "Liberace" exclusively.
His life is a series of happy, colorful accomplishments.
1950: He made his first film as honky tonk pianist in the movie "South Sea Sinner."
1951: He had local Los Angeles television show, and served as a summer replacement for Dinah Shore.
1952: Liberace's television series debuted which earned two Emmys.
Liberace had become television's first matinee idol.
1953: Liberace played Carnegie Hall and made a record-breaking appearance before 16,000 at Madison Square Garden. He packed an over-capacity crowd of 20,000 into the Hollywood Bowl and did it again at Chicago's Soldiers Field with an audience of 110,000.
1955: Liberace opened in the Las Vegas Riviera Hotel as the highest paid entertainer in the city's history. He made another movie, "Sincerely Yours."
1960: Liberace started a daytime television series on ABC.
1972: Liberace authored a best-selling autobiography, "Liberace."
1976: Liberace's third book, "The Things I love."
1976 - 1979: Liberace was acclaimed "Pop Keyboard Artist of the Year" by Contemporary Keyboard Magazine.
1978: Liberace returns to TV with his first American TV special for CBS, followed by a second in February 1979.
1977: Liberace founded the non-profit Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts.
1979: Liberace opened The Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Museum serves as the key funding arm for the Foundation.
1980: Las Vegas named Liberace both Star of the Year and Entertainment Personality of the Year.
1981: Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters presented Liberace with its coveted "Golden Mike" award.
1982: Liberace was voted to the Keyboard Magazine Hall of Fame; Liberace made a special showcase appearance at the Academy Awards, performing all five nominated film themes.
1984: Liberace's premier engagement at New York's famed Radio City Music Hall broke all sales and attendance records of the 51-year history of the Art Deco palace.
1986: Liberace's final performances were at Radio City Music Hall October 16 through November 2, 1986.
February 4, 1987, Liberace passes away.
Liberace transported audiences to a dazzling world of color, joyful music, glittering costumes, and humor.
Liberace's legend lives on in The Liberace Museum that houses his collections of rare and antique pianos, classic cars, famous sequined, bejeweled costume wardrobe, glittering stage jewelry, rare antiques and as well as his private papers and memorabilia. The Museum is the key funding arm for The Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts. Since 1976, The Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts has awarded more than 4.5 million dollars in scholarship grants to over 100 universities, schools and organizations.
At the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, you can get married by the piano master himself (well, a look alike).
If you miss the flash and flair of Liberace, catch the musical tribute show next time in Vegas.
If you want to find Liberace on VH-1, go here. A complete movie and TV listing is here.
Liberace's Will is here. See if he left you anything.
Finally, NGC just wants to wish Liberace a gay old time. We are sure that he is entertaining all customers where ever he is now.
* Gay: 1 a : happily excited : MERRY b : keenly alive and exuberant : having or inducing high spirits 2 a : BRIGHT, LIVELY b : brilliant in color