HBO's Behind the Candelabra premieres in just a few short days. On the eve of the new biopic about Liberace, who would have turned 94 years old this week, we revisit a piece published last year.
I recently bought a piano. I took lessons throughout my childhood and teens, but I haven't played much at all for 20 years. As I practice – starting way down at the bottom with the easiest songs (I had "Skip to My Lou" stuck in my head for days) – I am starting to be able to envision a time when I'll be a good player again. And with that vision comes a fantasy of the future parties I'll host, at which someone will invariably ask me to sit down and play a tune. Having advanced far beyond "Skip to My Lou," I will wow my friends with something a little like this…
Yes, I want to be like Liberace. From the marvelous costumes to the silly banter to the grandiose and bombastic playing style, everything about Liberace was beloved by his fans (most of them, as he joked, women).
Liberace in 1974 (Wikimedia Commons/Allen Warren)
Although my childhood piano teacher would have railed against his finger position (not nearly arched enough) and his playing style (a little sloppy and a lot overblown) – and music critics firmly agreed with that assessment – those things didn't matter to the fans. They thought his persona was a delight and his music was magnificent. They loved the rhinestone-encrusted suits, too.
More than 25 years after his death, Liberace – a.k.a. "Mr. Showmanship" – is still remembered as one of the greatest entertainers of his time. Online videos of his shows receive comment after comment on the beauty of his talent. And fans are eagerly awaiting HBO's new biopic, Behind the Candelabra, set to premiere on May 26. Directed by Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh, the film stars Michael Douglas as the beloved entertainer, Matt Damon as his young lover and Debbie Reynolds as Liberace’s mother, and also features Rob Lowe, Dan Aykroyd, Scott Bakula, Tom Papa and Paul Reiser.
Whether it's through repeated viewings of his fantastic shows, new looks at his life and talent, or just people like me who wish we could play like he did, Liberace will endure.
Written by Linnea Crowther