cover image Liberace: The True Story

Liberace: The True Story

Bob Thomas. St. Martin's Press, $0 (284pp) ISBN 978-0-312-01469-8

Biographer of Joan Crawford, Marlon Brando and other film stars, Thomas writes here in almost numbing minutiae about Liberace. Wladziu Valentino (""Lee'') Liberace was considered a future concert pianist in his hometown, Milwaukee, Wisc., but he became Mr. Show Business by mixing classics with tunes from Tin Pan Alley, which endeared him to fans. He learned the value of publicity in his youth and cultivated attention by wearing extravagant costumes that drew crowds to his live shows and TV appearances. Also part of the act, according to Thomas, was the ``sincere wink'' lavished on older women who were Liberace's greatest admirers. The author is sympathetic to this victim of AIDS, without omitting to note that the performer denied under oath his homosexuality when he sued a British and an American journalist for libel. Thomas also reports on the unsuccessful attempt to cover up the true cause of the entertainer's illness that brought on his death in 1986 at age 67. Photos not seen by PW. (January 22)