Liberace: Life Behind the Lies, Limos and Love


On one sunny morning in May of 1919, a set of twins were born.  One died and one survived.  The tale of the lost was long forgotten, but the story of the one who lived became a legend.  He outlived his brother and went on to tickle the ivories and the world with his style and flair.   He was a wonder from the start and proved his existence with in his inborn talents and contagious smile.  Wladzio Valentino Liberace was on his way to a great life, despite the taunting of his peers because he seemed to prefer cooking and music over sports.  The optimistic, gifted lad would eventually prove his own talent would shine.

The young boy of Polish descent, who was born in Wisconsin, exhibited enough talent and charisma by age 7 to be accepted to the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.  His father was his main supporter, as his mother thought it was a useless passion that cost money they did not have.  The whole family was soon delighted with the boy’s progress as he studied and mastered his classical training.  Wladzio became Walter for a time, but was soon was known as Lee or more famously, Liberace.

Liberace rose to fame with his piano skills by performing with the London Philharmonic and The Boston Pops.   Along with his many recordings, film appearances and TV shows, Liberace became a household name and was looked up to by piano students around the globe.  He was loved and admired and showed encouragement to many future pianists.  He was successful and happily paraded in his furs and jewels as he disembarked limos with cute little dogs.  The candelabra on the piano shelf was his trademark.  He was confident, proud and well worthy of all who succumbed to his delights.  He was in charge of himself and the ones that followed him closely.  He wrote their paychecks and he made the calls.  His smile continued to be infectious to the innocent audiences, as his lifestyle became liberal and lavish.  He enjoyed his earnings, and rested in his laurels while living in the lap of luxury.  His life beyond the stage was one of lounging behind the lies.

Liberace’s life behind the lies of his lifestyle was a deep secret he could not afford to wager.  The public was not yet ready for a man like him, so he hid a life of loves and dreams the next generation would come to understand.  He was ahead of his time, both in musical prowess and pride.  Still, his love for others went beyond the expected, both in extravagance and generosity.  He truly wanted to leave a legacy of encouragement to all musicians.

Liberace has been loved for years, but he sadly left the Earth in 1987.  He died a lonely death from the results of AIDS, but continues to warm the hearts of millions through his legacy of music and flair.  He led a tumultuous life of his own choosing, but everyone knows his name as the years pass by and his nickname of Mr. Showmanship lives on.  He inspired his fans and he conspired his mans, but he is still admired by many for his passion for piano music.

“Behind the Candelabra”, the HBO miniseries that portrays the story of Liberace’s lies, limos and love has been awarded Emmys that would make Lee proud.  As Liberace sits amongst the clouds and far beyond the music of this world, he surely is smiling down on his new friends Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, and thanking them for keeping his spirit alive.   Mr. Showmanship certainly has earned another round of applause.  The music continues as new venues of understanding for private lives are discovered, appreciated and loved.

Roanne FitzGibbon

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