Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Wonderful Private World of Liberace - review.

There are a number of people who really fascinate me. I like to read things about them such as articles or books - and I like to watch movies/documentaries or interviews about/with them. Here are a few of these people: George M. Cohan, George Gershwin, the Beatles, several actors, Liberace, and probably a number of others who I've forgotten about.
When I found out that Liberace wrote a number of books... Well, I went right to our library's website and looked up those books! I got his final book - the one he wrote a few years before he died.
Who is this Liberace?
Liberace was a very gifted piano player who was known for his lavish, sparkly, outfits.
Here is an early recording of him playing the Bumble Boogie (watch his legs.... I can't even keep beat like that when I'm just sitting around - let alone when I'm playing!)



Anyway, I read one of his books - The Wonderful Private World of Liberace - and here are my thoughts on it:

The bad:
I think that there was at least one swear word... maybe two or three.... But I can't remember. There may not have been any.
There was only one super big thing that you need to watch out for when reading this book... In chapter two or three he talks about meeting Miss Bea Haven (read it quickly) when he was sixteen and... doing things with her that a sixteen year old shouldn't be doing. The chapter has a pretty obvious title so there's no missing that that's what he's going to be talking about.... I did read the chapter... nothing was in detail, but I could have done without it (although in the same chapter he talked about how his family and he had to work through the Great Depression to get money, which was kind of interesting. He met Miss Bea Haven [his name, not mine] when he was playing at a piano bar).
He also makes some remarks that don't exactly correspond with Christian beliefs... More about focus on yourself/better yourself for yourself (as opposed to bettering yourself for God... to glorify Him).

The good:
This book fascinated me and made me a little sad.
Usually you think of performers as just that: performers. Liberace can almost be thought of as the ultimate performer. I mean, just look at the way he dressed!


But Liberace was so much more than just a performer... He had a life man! He was a renaissance man. He painted, he cooked, he owned lots of dogs, he ran a restaurant, he was an antique collector, and he was a bit of an interior decorator. He would buy an old lamp and people would say, "Why'd you buy that old thing?" When they came over next they would see he had a new lamp and say, "Where'd you get that? I LOVE it!" Liberace would say, "Remember that ugly old lamp? I turned it into this!" He would have large dinner parties and was on good terms with his family and those who worked for him.... Oh yeah, and he played piano.
This book really opened up a side to Liberace that I didn't know about before. It also gave me lots of good information that might be helpful down the road when I'm editing my first Daniel/Varina novel.... in which the plot centers on Liberace's rhinestone (which is the biggest in the world).

It also made me a little sad to read this book... Liberace collected so many things in his life and tried to make things beautiful. He also gave a lot of the money he earned from his museum and restaurant to the Liberace Foundation, which gave scholarships to music students. Now, I'm not sure how active it is anymore.... so I won't talk anymore about it.
What makes me sad is that he worked so hard to try and make things beautiful and now everything he worked so hard for is in a state of disarray. His museum has been closed for ten years-ish (though I heard a rumor that they're opening it next year. I HOPE SO!! Because I really want to go there. And I hope they keep it in the same state it was in when he was alive... Such as letting people play his pianos.... He says in his book that he didn't want there to be ropes around the exhibits).
His house has been foreclosed and who knows what happened to all his bejeweled cars, pianos, and clothes.
Here is an except from the book: "Whenever we get an inquiry about selling to the museum an article that should be in it, we send a letter saying the museum doesn't buy pieces but receives them as donations for which a tax deduction can be taken. We've been blessed with many gifts of historical interest, such as George Gershwin's piano. We also have a piano that was used by Frederic Chopin.
"I often take friends like Dolly Parton on personally conducted tours of the museum. There's always a question about how the Gershwin piano sounds. If I sit down to play something by Gershwin, we feel awed by the fact that the number was actually composed on this instrument.
"I'd never play anything but a piece by Chopin on the Chopin piano."
Where are those amazing, loved and cared for pianos now? I don't know. I sure hope that they've been taken care of the right way. Because it would be awful to have them disappear. George Gershwin's piano! He's my favorite composer!
And yet, isn't the fact that Liberace's homes are in foreclosure and in ruins - after he worked so hard to make them beautiful (he had a copy of the Sistine Chapel painted on his bedroom ceiling) - somewhat reflective on life? Nothing on this earth will last. Everything will eventually deteriorate. So why should we, as Christians, focus so much on the worldly things that will deteriorate? We should focus on our relationship with God, praising him, and going out and telling others about the hope that we have!

I rate this book a 9/10 stars because it was really fascinating to get an 'inside look' into Liberace's life - written by the man himself! Perhaps I'll try and locate one of his other books.

Live long and prosper!

1 comment:

  1. The point you made at the end there- that this life is temporary- is really quite well illustrated, like you suggested. I'd never heard of Liberace until you told me about him. I think I might do a little digging about on his life. He sounds like a fascinating person!