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"Liberace was one of the biggest stars in America. He was a kind of a phenomenon."
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Władziu Valentino Liberace (May 16, 1919 – February 4, 1987) was an American pianist, singer and actor. Born to Polish and Italian immigrants, he was a Child Prodigy, learning to play the piano at age 4, and able to remember even difficult pieces by the time he was 7. He soon went on to play with well-known orchestras, and toured throughout the United States.

In the 1940s, he moved away from classical music, adding some traditional "pop" styling to his piano music. This soon found success, and for the next four decades, he would become a fixture in the entertainment world. As well as his own The Eponymous Show in the 1950s and frequent guest appearances As Himself on variety shows, he had a memorable Guest Star turn in Batman (1966) in a dual role as concert pianist Chandell and his gangster twin Harry. His two-part episode drew the highest ratings of the series. He would also go on to get a residency show in Vegas, star in motion pictures (his turn as a coffin salesman in The Loved One being a particular high point), and become the highest-paid entertainer in the world.

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He was also well-known for his oft-mocked flamboyant style, dressing in nice suits and elaborate costumes, and buying many expensive items. Throughout his life, there was much speculation about his sexuality. Liberace vehemently denied that he was gay, and sued several newspapers for spreading rumors.

Liberace was reportedly a huge influence on Elton John, and gave Barbra Streisand her first big break.

In 1985, he was found to be HIV positive, a fact he concealed from the public. He would soon die on February 4, 1987.


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