Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Crying all the way to the bank

The computer dramas continue, but naturally I could not leave the birthday of Liberace unmarked. The egregious showman pianist, who through the Fifties and Sixties was the highest-paid entertainer in the world, was born on this day in 1919, to working-class immigrant parents. A talented pianist to begin with, he moved swiftly away from the classical repertoire towards his own peculiarly schmalzy brand of easy listening (and easy playing – his technique, such as it was, became appallingly sloppy), presented with an unparalleled degree of flamboyant showmanship.
 A particularly shameful episode in his career was the disgraceful libel case  of 1956 in which the famously red-blooded heterosexual Liberace sued the Daily Mirror columnist William Connor ('Cassandra') for making the outrageous suggestion that there was something of the effeminate about him. Of course, having hired on the of the best barristers money could buy, Liberace won and, in a phrase he popularised, 'cried all the way to the bank'. And how had 'Cassandra' described Liberace in the offending column? As 'the summit of sex—the pinnacle of masculine, feminine and neuter. Everything that he, she and it can ever want… a deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love'. Phew.
 Not one to mince his words, William Connor. They don't make them like him any more – nor, thank heavens, do they make them like Liberace...