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Liberace (1919-1987)  
page: 1  2  

All of Liberace's work to maintain his closet collapsed when Scott Thorson sued the entertainer for $113,000,000 in palimony in 1982. Dismissing Thorson as a disgruntled employee who was fired for alcohol and drug use, Liberace denied in court that the two had been lovers for five years. Ultimately, the matter was settled out of court for $95,000.

Thorson, whom Liberace sent to his own plastic surgeon to have his face remodeled in the performer's own image, was replaced by eighteen-year-old Cary James, who shared Liberace's life and bed until the performer's death five years later. James and Liberace both tested HIV-positive in 1985; James died in 1997.

In spite of his ill health and having lost fifty pounds, the sixty-seven-year-old Liberace honored his contract to appear at Radio City Music Hall in 1986, his third record-breaking engagement there. Horrified by Rock Hudson's recent outing and death, Liberace steadfastly refused to disclose anything about his sexuality or health. He told close friends, "I don't want to be remembered as an old queen who died of AIDS."

Liberace died at the age of sixty-eight on February 4, 1987. He left the bulk of his estate to the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts.

Despite the railing of critics that he was a failed artist who debased music, Liberace remains popular: as of 1994, thirty-one new editions of his records had been issued since his death, only seven years earlier.

Liberace was not only immortalized by a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but by two television biographies: Liberace (ABC) and Liberace: Behind the Music (CBS), both in 1988.

Bud Coleman

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arts >> Overview:  Cabarets and Revues

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arts >> Overview:  Film Actors: Gay Male

Although few gay actors have been permitted the luxury of openness, many of them have challenged and helped reconfigure notions of masculinity and, to a lesser extent, of homosexuality.

arts >> Overview:  Music: Popular

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons have had tremendous influence on popular music, though some musical genres have been more receptive to a homosexual presence than others.

social sciences >> Overview:  Outing

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arts >> Hudson, Rock

A product of Hollywood's star system, Rock Hudson became an international symbol of heterosexuality, wearing a mask until it was savagely ripped off when he was diagnosed with AIDS.


Faris, Jocelyn. Liberace: A Bio-Bibiliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995.

Hadleigh, Boze. Hollywood Gays. Barricade Books, 1996.

Liberace. An Autobiography. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1973.

_____. Liberace Cooks. New York: Barricade Books, 1970.

_____. The Things I Love. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1976.

_____. The Wonderful Private World of Liberace. Tony Palmer, ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

Miller, Harriet H. I'll Be Seeing You : The Young Liberace. Las Vegas: Leesson Publisher, 1992.

Mungo, Ray. Liberace. Lives of Notable Gay Men and Lesbians. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 1995.

Pyron, Darden Asbury. Liberace: An American Boy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Thomas, Bob. Liberace: The True Story. New York: St. Martins Press, 1988.

Thorson, Scott, with Alex Thorleifson. Behind the Candelabra : My Life With Liberace. New York: Dutton, 1988.


    Citation Information
    Author: Coleman, Bud  
    Entry Title: Liberace  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated November 8, 2008  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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