Liberace, thirty years later
Three decades ago today, the world lost the man who would later be recognized as the godfather of modern show business.
When Liberace succumbed at the height of AIDS hysteria in 1987, it was controversial tabloid fodder. Always a provocative figure who pushed the limits of middle American conformity, he was only the second major star to die of the disease. His loss would prove to be a catalyst, along with others, to prod the public to eventually come to grips with AIDS, to correct the stigma and quell the fear surrounding it, and approach it as any other disease.
Today Liberace’s cause of death is only a footnote in the storied life of extravagance of the performer who held the first residency in Las Vegas. His status here, for decades the highest paid entertainer in the world, has brought the residencies of superstars, ever since.
It is perhaps no surprise that it is the world of entertainment which has best kept his flame burning. Named in the lyrics of hundreds of records of all genres, from 1955 to 2016, Liberace is also a cultural reference in the scripts of over 200 movies. He has over 20 million youtube views. The latest film about his life has over 10 million HBO views. He has enjoyed more press in the past two years than seen since the height of his career, and brand license requests increase by the month.
And at last, his cultural importance is about to extend even beyond the Library of Congress’s recognition of him as the only individual culturally influential on Las Vegas. As a yet another genreation of fans – grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Liberace’s original audience – post and send their respects to the foundation which Liberace left to support the arts, we are thrilled to announce a coming encore.
His greatest coup yet
The Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts has partnered with the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris to exhibit in the City of Light, from May until November 2017, the artifacts of Liberace, as well as others of artists he influenced. The Foundation will also host the VIP party at the opening of the exhibit on May 18, 2017, amid masterpieces, overlooking the Sein and the Eiffel Tower. A tremendous Foundation supporter, Composer Chloe Flower will perform on the famous Liberace Crystal piano in the Museum’s incredible Dufy Room. Support has begun to flow from stars including commedian Chris Rock; hip hop artists French Montana, and Flavor Flav; producer Russell Simmons; Composer Chloe Flower; Actress Sanaa Lathan; Behind the Candelabra costume designer Ellen Mirojnick and many more.
The importance of the Paris exhibit, not only for Liberace and the American showmanship he represents but also for that genre’s home of Las Vegas, can not be overstated. While in the capitals of Europe a mention of Las Vegas may elicit a scoff, the very pinnicle of culture in Paris will now publicly exhibit his artifacts in observance of the importance of Liberace and, by extention, the glittering city on which he was so influential.
Thirty years after his death, Liberace isn’t just back. He is an international cultural icon.