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Films: L is for...

Liberace

Late ’80s telly movie starring Garak off of Deep Space Nine as the George-related ivroy tinkler, which provides us with a slim but graspable chance to launch a re-appraisal of Lee’s career we fancy and a renaissance of his life and work since we’ve always thought that he was great. His ATV series was easily the most glamorous and silly programme ever made in Britain, with Richard Wattis as his butler ringing top flight guests into his mawkish piano room to do ludicrous duets with him. We recall seeing a fantastic clip of Terry-Thomas on it with Dickie Wattis bringing him in to the music room wearing a stupid glitter-festooned jacket to fit in with his surroundings and Lee saying, “You’re wearing my pyjamas!” before starting a duet of Has Anybody Seen My Girl, with TT and Liberace providing alternate comedy lines (L: “On each fingers rings and pearls”, TT: “Enough about you now what about her!”; TT : “She’s got two eyes above her mouth, one points north and the other points south”!) while the former played the ukele in perfect comedy manner (fumbling over the strings and slapping it on the back and all that) and the latter of course flourishing away on the piano. Big Fuck Off LE Cobblers in the grandest Grade tradition. There are the films of his mental Las Vegas concerts of course, where he arrives in his special glass Roller, or comes on wearing a coat made of white ostrich feathers – apparently in the 70s each outfit cost over $100,000; where’s your Danny La Rue now, eh? – and of course there are those excellent clips of his original 50s shows on American telly when he was still very much the darling of the elderly ladies who would have liked to marry him during which he would play softly then catch the eye of the camera and smoulder accordingly into it. After the infamous Cassandra case against the Mirror on this side of the ditch however he could never be openly gay so he had to maintain the ludicrous premise of his partner Scott being his ‘chauffeur’ which must have been the least well kept secret of true intentions since the Gestapo put skulls and crossbones on their hats. A tragic end for him of course, with drugs and drink and irresponsible and quite disturbing plastic surgery before his famous demise as an early celebrity victim of AIDS and perhaps that lead him to be dismissed by all quarters so easily, not least the gay community itself who seem happy to have him cast aside as being too outrageous. This in the age of ‘Sir’ Elton John, too. He cropped up on the soundtrack of Misery several years ago giving one of his unique interpetations of popular song in performing I’ll Be Seeing You but that’s not nearly enough. However, we’d love to see more and more of Liberace in the year to come.

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