5 Little-Known Facts About Liberace
There was nobody quite like the legendary Liberace. Being the highest-paid entertainer in the entire world at one time, the man definitely knew how to live it up. Everything he did was over the top, from his clothes, to his house, and everything else in his life.
His real name was Władziu Valentino Liberace, and he was born in the state of Wisconsin. A classically trained pianist and natural entertainer, Liberace enjoyed a lengthy career thanks to his consistent level of showmanship and outrageousness. His career lasted three decades, from the ’50s all the way up to the beginning of the ’80s. While Liberace was arguably the star of stars at a point, here are some things you might not have known about him…
More a Showman Than a Professional Musician
Born in Wisconsin, Liberace was a child prodigy when it came to music. It didn’t hurt that his father, especially was a talented musician in his own right and helped to nurture those gifts.
Liberace took music lessons as a child, though he was more interested in putting his own spin on the songs he learned, rather than playing them accurately. It was rare that young Liberace would play any song as intended, sometimes increasing the complexity of it, and other times, simplifying it, depending on his mood that day. Some critics didn’t appreciate the flair he expressed in the songs he played, claiming it was gimmicky, or lacking authenticity.
A Social Butterfly
When he wasn’t on stage, he absolutely loved spending time with famous friends. Some of his closest friends were Bea Arthur and Lucille Ball, as well as Rip Taylor and John Steinbeck. His friends claimed that he was as generous as could be, constantly giving things away, and helping others when he could. Many people believe that his incessant generosity stemmed from growing up during the Depression era, as if he felt lucky to have everything he did.
Liberace Inspired Elvis
Before meeting Liberace, Elvis didn’t dress very flashy, and opted for a lot of black leather. At the urging of his friend, Elvis realized he needed to step up his wardrobe if he wanted to truly entertain his fans. Eventually, Liberace inspired him to wear incredibly flashy gold suits, and incorporate more glitz into his shows. He even became a better showman, though Liberace took no credit for it.
Real Estate Mogul
Surprisingly, Liberace loved real estate just as much as he did music, purchasing a series of homes in Southern California. Later on in the ’70s, he nearly gave in and bought the famous “Tower House” in London, England. After he agreed he would buy it, he left without putting down any type of down payment, allowing Irish actor Richard Harris to swoop in with an offer, and ultimately buy the home.
In 1953, Liberace designed a home that was completely piano-themed, even featuring a piano-shaped swimming pool, ornamental pianos throughout, and musical notes on top of the iron fence.
As flamboyant as the man was, Liberace realized that if he came out as gay, his career could be in serious trouble. When the Daily Mirror published a piece that hinted at his homosexuality, using words like “fruit-flavored” and “giggling” to describe the musician, he sued the newspaper for libel, which commenced a three-week trial. When all was said and done, Liberace walked away with a $200,000 a settlement.
Whether you were a fan of Liberace’s or not, the fact that he was a true entertainer can’t be denied. He will surely live on as one of the greatest and most outrageous performers of all time.