The first time I saw Liberace in person, he was at the Hollywood Bowl. Our opening night seats were not good, way up on the side where we actually sat sideways and not full front forward. His Hollywood Bowl debut was spectacular, even though I had to climb the endless stairs to my seat way at the top!
It was such a thrill to hear him when he came on stage and started to play the piano for us in his own unique and flamboyant style. I could see him from way above, only because he came out wearing all white to stand out against the enormous black concert grand piano. I thought how lucky I was to hear this genius of the keyboard play one number after the next in ways one had never heard before. His performance was spectacular and he received several ovations and the audience couldn’t seem to get enough of him. Encore after Encore from the sold-out crowd, and even though our seats were dreadful, we were so thrilled to be in this huge audience.
Afterwards we went backstage where Liberace and entourage were gathered, I pressed my nerve to the point of no return and walking up to him I said, “I just wanted to shake your hand and congratulate you.” He was so kind, so warm and appreciative that I felt struck by a great star. I had met the great one!
The rest of the evening was a blur when I went home feeling like Cinderella leaving the ball after losing my shoe trying to gracefully climb the staircase to meet Mr. Wonderful. After all, he was once quoted as referring to himself as, “A One Man Disneyland!” To say I was star struck would be putting it mildly. I knew life after Liberace would never be the same and of course it never was.
That night way back resulted in two concert albums, Liberace at the Hollywood Bowl and Hollywood Bowl Encore. Both of which I still have in my record collection.
Up to date – watching Michael Douglas portray Liberace in the HBO television movie, Behind the Candelabra, was spectacular; with Douglas delivering in this reporter’s opinion, the best performance of his career!
Along with stellar performances from Matt Damon as Scott Thorson, Debbie Reynolds as Liberace’s mother (Frances Liberace), and Rob Lowe as Plastic Surgeon, Doctor Jack Startz, brilliantly added star quality layering to the film. You had to really look deep to see the actors behind their characters, and I’m still trying to find a trace of Debbie Reynolds in her role as Liberace’s mother, she was so immersed in her character, you just knew she really was Frances Liberace. One felt convinced these people were the real deal! They should not go unrecognized.
Liberace, “Mr. Showmanship” paved the way for just about every major entertaining superstar to date, especially Sir Elton John, who has many times called Liberace his hero.
To quote the groundbreaking, flamboyant, and not afraid to push the envelope, ultimate performer Liberace, “Too much of a good thing is Wonderful!”
But for me, I’ll always remember him singing directly to each and every person in his audience, “I’ll find you in the morning sun / and when the night is new / I’ll be looking at the moon / but I’ll be seeing you.”