A new motion picture about the life of flamboyant piano virtuoso Liberace (1619 - 1967) cannot be shown on TV or in movie theatres (for the moment), because of 'its overly gay content'. None of the studios were willing to release the film about gay artist Liberace.
The film 'Behind the Candelabra' by director Steven Soderbergh, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, was rejected because of too much gayness! The film will now only be shown on the pay-tv channel HBO, where it was also produced. Soderbergh states he was extremely surprised that no one wanted to release the film. 'They say the film is too gay. And that after Brokeback Mountain, which isn’t as funny as my movie. I am very surprised and don't understand this at all'.
Actor Michael Douglas plays the role of the flamboyant piano virtuoso Liberace. The film biography is based on the book Behind the 'Candelabra: My Life With Liberace' by Scott Thorson. Scott Thorson was employed by Liberace as his assistant, but served more as toy boy and lover. Matt Damon plays the role of lover Thorson.
Liberace, known by his friends as "Lee," was born in West Allis, Wisconsin. His mother Frances Zuchowski was Polish-American, and his father Salvatore "Sam" Liberace was Italian. He grew up in a musical family and was trained as a classical pianist. On the advice of a friend, he continued his life as an artist under his surname Liberace.
His career as a classical pianist was successful, but his curious encores, in which he played pop songs and marches, were so popular with audiences that he changed his acts to "pop with some classical music". Later he would describe his acts as "classical music without the boring parts". During the forties, he mostly played the dinner and night clubs of the bigger American cities. In the beginning of his career he performed under the name of Walter Busterkeys.
Liberace becomes famous because of his extremely extravagant costumes (from glitter suits to large white fur coats), golden rings, diamond cufflinks, and his sense of humour. The ordinary black grand piano wasn't enough for Liberace. He excessively adorned several Baldwins with glass or other ornaments, and every piano was graced with a golden chandelier.
In 1955, he earned $ 50,000 a week in the Riviera in Las Vegas, and had over 160 official fan clubs with more than a quarter of a million fans, mostly middle aged women. In 1960, he received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to the American film industry. His recordings were released by Columbia Records, he was on television frequently, and made appearances in several movies.
Liberace performed with Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis Jr., among others. His life was great material for the gossip papers. In 1973, his autobiography came out. Besides entertaining, Liberace also kept himself busy with his antique shop and his restaurant in Las Vegas. Cooking was one of his hobbies, and consequently he also authored a cook book: Liberace Cooks. In this book, there are recipes for his “seven diner rooms” in his Hollywood house.
In the seventies, he managed to earn $300,000 a week in Las Vegas. The glitter shows remained successful, and he was still on television frequently. In 1979, he opened a museum about himself, in which he displayed his adorned Baldwin pianos and his extravagant clothes and jewellery.
In 1957, a column by William Connor appeared in The Daily Mirror, which indirectly implied that Liberace was gay. Liberace sued the newspaper for defamation, won the case, and would continue to deny he was gay until the day he died. In 1982, one of his former boyfriends, Scott Thorson, demanded $113 million in alimony payments from Liberace. Still, he kept denying he was homosexual. The case was settled by awarding damages to the amount of $ 95,000 to Thorson.
Liberace gave his last performance at the age of 67, on the 2nd of November 1986 at the Radio City Music Hall in New York. He died on the 4th of February 1987 in his winter house in Palm Springs. It was clearly visible that he had been losing weight in the month prior to his death. His manager Seymour Heller attributed this to a "water melon diet". Later, it became clear that Liberace had been seriously ill since 1985. This was partly caused by smoking, but he also suffered from heart and liver disease. Afterwards, it turned out he died of AIDS. When exactly he became HIV positive isn’t known. Liberace always stayed in denial, and died thinking that his fans did not know he was gay. Liberace was buried at the Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.