Mabee Center E-Museum

Liberace

1982

Biography

Wladziu Valentino Liberace was born on May 16, 1919 in West Allis (Milwaukee), Wisconsin. Liberace learned to play the piano at the age of four. By seven, he was memorizing difficult pieces. In his early twenties, Liberace performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Like many young artists, to succeed, he needed to separate himself from the classical piano world.

Between 1942 and 1944, Liberace transitioned away from traditional classical music performances to an unpredictable mixing of styles and genres. He would mash together Chopin with “Home on the Range”. Liberace would also encourage audience interaction such as talking requests, making jokes and giving lessons to selected audience members. Through the years, Liberace’s popularity grew. After his performance at Madison Square Garden in 1954, his career took off. Liberace was a regular act at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

He made many television appearances including The Tonight Show with Jack Paar, Batman, The Muppet Show, and Saturday Night Live. He had two shows of his own and starred in a few films. In 1960, Liberace earned his spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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