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Liberace: Behind the Music

Liberace: Behind the Music is a 1988 American-Canadian made-for-television biographical film. It is an "unofficial" biopic drama on the life and death of Władziu Valentino Liberace, who went from a humble working-class background to become a famous American pianist and vocalist. Known as "Liberace", he became the highest paid entertainer in the world, while embracing a lifestyle of flamboyant excess. The film first aired less than two years after his death, in the United States, as a CBS Sunday Movie.

Liberace: Behind the Music
DVD cover
Written byGavin Lambert
Directed byDavid Greene
StarringVictor Garber
Saul Rubinek
Michael Dolan
Maureen Stapleton
Music byHagood Hardy
Country of originCanada
United States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Linda Yellen
Nancy Bein
Producer(s)Murray Shostak
CinematographyRené Verzier
Editor(s)Yves Langlois
Running time97 minutes
Production company(s)The Kushner-Locke Company
Original networkCBS
Original releaseOctober 9, 1988 (1988-10-09)



The modest-length production (97 minutes) traces Liberace's life, as played by Canadian actor Victor Garber, from his humble beginnings in a Milwaukee suburb, through his major life highs and lows, culminating with the highly publicized palimony lawsuit filed against him by his former limo driver and alleged live-in boyfriend of five years, Scott Thorson (played by Michael Dolan), and his failing health, ending with his death at age 67 on February 4, 1987, from AIDS complications.

The film has been noted[by whom?] for the early casting appearance of the then 20-year-old Shawn Levy as Glenn, a post-Thorson acquaintance of Liberace's through the pianist's final days.

The movie was directed by Emmy Award-winning David Greene. Credit for technical advisor is given to long-time Liberace friend and agent Seymour Heller (portrayed in the film by Saul Rubinek).

Film clips from Liberace's actual stage appearances are interspersed in the storyline.

Liberace: Behind the Music was broadcast one week after the ABC biopic production Liberace (1988), starring Andrew Robinson in the lead, and with a script holding to a point of view that Liberace was heterosexual. Liberace: Behind the Music, however, acknowledged his homosexuality.


Wladiziu Valentino Liberace, a gifted classical pianist fueled by poverty, was already playing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the age of 17. Through a variety of his highs and lows, chaptered in TV-style format, Liberace's life from his early years through his death are chronicled such as his career highs and lows and the struggle with keeping his sexuality hidden from the public.


Actor Role
Victor Garber Liberace
Saul Rubinek Seymour Heller
Michael Dolan Scott Thorson
Maureen Stapleton Frances Liberace
Shawn Levy Glenn
Michael Wilkes George Liberace
Macha Grenon Joanne
George Touliatos Salvatore Liberace
Joan Heney Serious Lady
Andrew Nichols Teenager
Paul Hipp Elvis Presley
Frances Hyland Florence Bettray Kelly
Stephen Watts Jimmy
Rochelle Bruneau George's Girl

Home mediaEdit

Liberace: Behind the Music is available on DVD from Kushner-Locke, distributed through Tango Entertainment.


See alsoEdit

External linksEdit