Who the hell is Liberace?
You may know him better than you thought
Liberace created the brand of showmanship on which the Las Vegas Strip was built.
The Las Vegas Weekly in 2013 called him the greatest Vegas headliner of all time, noting he had so many 'firsts,' that virtually all Las Vegas Headliner acts could be traced to, or through Liberace.
Liberace created bling. He invented the artist in residency model, in Las Vegas show business. He developed modern costuming and showmanship. He is the reason why Las Vegas looks like Las Vegas, the harbinger of the Vegas tradition of flash for the fun of it, luxury for its own sake. The epitome of flamboyance, before LGBTQ acceptance, he was the the very impetus of "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," while always regarded as the ultimate gentleman.
Liberace lived in Las Vegas. That's where he pioneered show business, beginning in 1944 when there were only two hotels on the Strip, and continuing throughout his touring career, until 1986. He came to define the over-the-top luxury lifestyle of the Strip. His costumes remain the greatest in show business history. His furs and fashion set standards for generations. His cars remain the most elaborate stage vehicles ever made. He set records for attendance, ticket sales and earnings, at showrooms in Las Vegas, theaters in New York and stadiums around the world. He was the highest paid entertainer in the world for decades, beginning in 1955 when the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas paid him $50,000 per week. He gave away millions and his estate continues to do so today. He established a model for other celebrities to do the same, even long after he passed away in 1987. His impact was so known that his museum was one of the greatest attractions in Las Vegas for thirty years, including during his career. His brand estate was more extensive, better organized and protected, while being more licensable than any before him, or since.
In Liberace's lifetime he appeared on the Jack Benny Show, the Ed Sullivan Show, the Merv Griffin Show, the Mike Douglas Show, the Tonight Show, David Letterman, and many more. His own television show was the most syndicated in the US, and won him two EMMY Awards. He was featured on iconic television including Laugh In, the Flintstones, even Bugs Bunny and Batman. He hosted the Muppets, co-hosted many talk shows, was featured on What's My Line, This is Your Life, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and many more. He starred in two films, made cameos in several more, and guest starred all over television.
In recent years Liberace appearances have been licensed so that vintage video of him, or actors performing as him could appear in the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the Jim Gaffigan Show, Mozart in the Jungle, Bladerunner 2049, Rocket Man and many stage shows. His pianos have been borrowed for the 2019 GRAMMY Awards and the 2020 Oscars. His jewels have been exhibited at the Paris Museum of Modern Art and Monte Carlo Fashion Week. His costuming has been exhibited at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, and inspired numerous stars' attire at the 2019 MET Gala. Cited as the inspiration of many performers, Liberace is mentioned in the lyrics of over 200 songs, in all genres, from country to hip hop.
Liberace is the subject of three films and multiple documentaries. He has two stars on the Hollywood walk of Fame. He musical arrangements are the subject of academic papers, as having been far ahead of their time. His largest music license was by Adidas in 2020, for a piece Liberace arranged in 1967. His name has been licensed in recent years for everything from steak houses to shoes. His appearances have over 20 million views on YouTube. His costume designs are held by the Smithsonian Institute. His influence on Las Vegas is recorded in Library of Congress. His arrangements are praised in the Journal of American Music. known to everyone's grandmother, young fans today collect his memorabilia and artifacts, all over the world.
Liberace is the godfather of modern showmanship, stagecraft, costuming, showbusiness and luxury lifestyle. He is the personification of Las Vegas culture.
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About the author
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Honorary Consul of the Principality of Monaco,
Chairman of the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts,
50 years in Las Vegas,
Citizen of the world.