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October 2, 2014

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Liberace: Past, present and future (UPDATED with competition winners)

UPDATE: Here are the winners of this afternoon's 2008 Liberace Piano Competition:

Abigail Varghese, age 8, from Henderson, won the Classical Junior Division.

Carmen Lai, 17, from Las Vegas, won the Classical Senior Division. Both Abigail and Carmen received a $500 musical scholarship.

Ashlee Young, 21, from Billings, Montana, won the Classical Open Division, and received a $1,000 musical scholarship.

Christopher Carter, 26, from Albertsville, Alabama, won the Showmanship Division and a $1,000 cash award. The beaming Carter, who sported a black velvet tuxedo with rhinestone trim, could step right into Liberace's sequined jackets at a moment's notice.

The Liberace Museum also announced that the new star of its Cabaret Showroom is pianist Philip Fortenberry, who is artistic director of the Museum and also headed the judging panel for the competition. Fortenberry will do an afternoon show called "Liberace and Me" on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1 p.m.; performances begin this Tuesday.

Earlier this morning:

I'm headed out this sunny Sunday to catch the finals for the Liberace Piano Competition, and that reminded me of a bit of news I heard earlier this week.

Director Steven Soderbergh has cast Michael Douglas to play Liberace in a biopic about the famously flamboyant Las Vegas showman. Matt Damon is set to play Liberace's lover, Scott Thorson, who sued him for $113 million in palimony.

Blogger JoeMyGod notes that "right up until his 1987 death from AIDS, Liberace denied he was gay. (The magazines were always depicting him as dating one starlet or another and a lot of people bought it somehow.)"

JoeMyGod adds a bit of Liberace trivia:

Liberace played the "evil pianist" villain Chandell on Batman. His episodes were the highest rated of the series.

In a letter to a critic who derided his ostentatious style, Liberace coined the now-famous phrase, "I cried all the way to the bank."

The Liberace finals are at 1:30 p.m. today at Community Lutheran auditorium, 3720 E. Tropicana Ave. Tickets are $15; the auditorium holds about 500. A portion of the proceeds benefit Family Promise, a 10-year-old Las Vegas organization that helps families get off the streets, find employment and move into a home, keeping the family together during the process.

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