Las Vegas Sun

October 1, 2014

Entertainers remember Liberace

The entertainment world, Wednesday, remembered pianist Liberace as a consummate showman who dazzled "the common man" with classics and popular music played in a glittering style.

"Lee was one of the world's most gifted popular pianists, a warm soul who contributed years of pleasure to millions," Bob Hope said shortly after hearing the news that Liberace had died in his Palm Springs home. "He was my friend for 40 years."

Comedienne Phyllis Diller said she and Liberace became close friends in the early days of her own career.

"I met Liberace in the very beginning. He would come up on stage and make jokes about my clothing saying 'It looks like you're wearing one of my shirts,'" she said.

"He really was a showman," Diller said. "He brought music to the common man."

Lucille Ball remembered the flamboyant performer as "a marvelous showman" whose "beautiful music will certainly be missed by all."

Singer Wayne Newton said, "It really doesn't matter how it ends for any of us. The only thing that truly matters are the hearts and souls we touch along the way, and Liberace touched many hearts. I had great respect for him."

Maxine Lewis remembered working as a booking agent for the Last Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas in 1945, bringing Liberace to the hotel for his first performance and contract.

"He never forgot the people who helped him climb the ladder," she said.

Lewis recalled that during Liberace's first Las Vegas appearance, the performer gave a man standing at the back of the theater his cues for the stage lights, only to find out later he was not an electrician but tycoon Howard Hughes.

Don Gugliemino, a spokesman for Caesars Palace Hotel, said Liberace was one of the "greatest stars" in Las Vegas.

"He held an uncanny appeal to everyone," Guglielmino said. "He transcended generations and age groups. The world has lost one of the last of the great showmen."

Singer and actress Martha Raye said Liberace held a special appeal for women, "especially older women."

"He had a charm, a great charm about him and he had a niceness and a sort of a naiveté that they liked ... in a man like that. He was very honest ... and had great respect for his audience, which is very rare these days. He loved life, he loved it very much."

Mr. Television, Milton Berle, remembered Liberace as an entertainer who possessed "a rare combination of musical talent.

"All I can say is he is one of the warmest ... gentleman I ever met and I believe that the feelings flowed over the footlights and embraced the audience," Berle said. "He was a rare combination of musical talent. When he worked in Las Vegas, he was the first one that people flocked to see. He changed his act constantly to provide surprises and innovation."

Sammy Davis Jr. said, "I will miss him as an entertainer, but even more as a human being."

Paul Anka said he always admired Liberace for "his talents."

"He was a true gentleman with no malice toward anyone," Anka said. "He helped many young artists and worked hard to develop their talents."

Danny Thomas called him "a brilliant pianist, a great entertainer, a tremendous showman and a good friend."

George Burns said Liberace was a "great entertainer and a great personality."

Singer Robert Goulet said he had known Liberace since they both worked together on a 1950s television variety show.

"He was a delightful individual, a gentleman and a superb entertainer," Goulet said. "You knew you were going to be entertained and you knew you would enjoy yourself when you went to a Liberace show."

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