Open main menu

Scott Thorson (born January 23, 1959, La Crosse, Wisconsin)[1] is an American best known for his relationship with and lawsuit against the entertainer Liberace. Since 2008 he has had multiple criminal convictions and has been an inmate in the Nevada Department of Corrections system since January 2014.

Scott Thorson
Born (1959-01-23) January 23, 1959 (age 60)
La Crosse, Wisconsin, United States
ResidenceNorthern Nevada Correctional Center, Carson City, Nevada, United States
Other namesJess Marlow
Partner(s)Liberace (1976–1982)



A teenaged Thorson met Liberace in 1976 through his romantic friendship with dancer Bob Street (a friend of Hollywood producer Ray Arnett) who was staging Liberace's shows in Vegas. When Thorson was 18, Liberace hired him to act as his personal friend and companion, a position that allegedly included a five-year romantic relationship with lavish gifts, travel, and Liberace's promises that he would adopt and care for Thorson. Liberace claimed that he had "more mink coats and diamonds than Elizabeth Taylor".[2] Liberace also incorporated Thorson into his Las Vegas stage performances – for example, Thorson drove Liberace's Rolls-Royce onstage,[3] and was a dancer.[4]

According to Thorson, their committed relationship ended because of Liberace's promiscuous behavior and Thorson's drug addiction. Thorson also claimed that it was Liberace that originally started him on the drugs, but then when his habit got out of control, Liberace cut him off from all of his credit cards.[2] Thorson stated that following his plastic surgery, the surgeon provided for him a cocktail of highly addictive drugs that included cocaine, Quaaludes, biphetamines, and Demerol.[5] Thorson stated that since he was so young at the time of meeting Liberace, he would do anything that he could to please him, including getting plastic surgery so that he could resemble him, but he felt that their relationship was one-sided. He called Liberace both generous and possessive.[2]

In 2000, Thorson was among several people featured in the British television documentary Liberace: Too Much of a Good Thing Is Wonderful. In 2002, Thorson was interviewed by Larry King on Larry King Live, during which Thorson confirmed that, in the midst of his relationship with Liberace, he chose to have plastic surgery to look more like Liberace at the pianist's suggestion. Also during the interview with King, Thorson revealed his chin implant had been removed earlier in 2002.[3]

Following his release from prison in 2012, Thorson gave interviews about his relationship with Liberace, one with Howard Stern, in June 2013, in which he talked about former lovers and affairs he had when he lived with Liberace. Another interview was on Entertainment Tonight in May 2012,[6][7] where he stated that memories of his time with Liberace were still difficult for him.[8]

Lawsuit and bookEdit

In 1982, after he was let go by Liberace,[9] Thorson filed a $113 million lawsuit against Liberace,[10][3] part of which was a palimony suit. This was the first same-sex palimony case filed in U.S. history.[2] Thorson decided to sue because he claimed that Liberace threw him out on the streets with nothing.[2] Liberace continued to deny that he was homosexual, and during court depositions in 1984, he insisted that Thorson was never his lover.[citation needed] Throughout their lawsuit, Thorson stated that Liberace referred to him in the media as a disgruntled employee, a liar, a gold digger, and claimed that there was never a sexual relationship between them.[2]

The case was settled out of court in 1986, with Thorson receiving a $75,000 cash settlement, plus three cars and three pet dogs worth another $20,000 (a total of $217,000 today).[9][2] Thorson visited and reconciled with Liberace shortly before the entertainer's death in February 1987.[3] Thorson said, after Liberace had died, that he settled because he knew that Liberace was dying, and that Thorson had intended to sue based on conversion of property rather than palimony.[citation needed]

A year after Liberace's death, Thorson published a book about their relationship, Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace.[11]

In the Canada–US television film Liberace: Behind the Music (1988), Thorson was portrayed by Michael Dolan.[12]

Thorson's book was later adapted by Richard LaGravenese and Steven Soderbergh into the 2013 film Behind the Candelabra, in which Thorson was played by Matt Damon opposite Michael Douglas as Liberace. The movie aired on HBO on May 26, 2013.[13] The film was directed by Steven Soderbergh from a screenplay by Richard LaGravenese, with music by Academy Award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch.[14]


In 1989, Thorson emerged as a pivotal witness in the prosecution of gangster Eddie Nash, in the 1981 quadruple murders of the Wonderland Gang. For his testimony, he was placed in the federal witness protection program. In 1990, he was shot five times when drug dealers broke into his hotel room in Jacksonville, Florida.[citation needed]

In 2008, Thorson pleaded guilty to felony drug and burglary charges and was sentenced to four years in prison.[10]

Previously diagnosed with hepatitis C, in the autumn of 2012, Thorson was diagnosed with stage II cancer.[3][15] After his diagnosis, and before his health care became the responsibility of the Nevada Department of Corrections in January 2014, Thorson made public pleas for money to continue his medical treatments. Thorson had planned in 2012 to re-release the book Behind the Candelabra to coincide with the film's release.[16]

In February 2013, police investigating a lost wallet tracked the use of the victim's credit cards to a hotel in Reno, Nevada. Thorson was found to be using the credit cards and was arrested. Thorson (who also uses the alias Jess Marlow, an alias he says that he acquired when he entered the protection program in the Nash case) was booked on a variety of charges, including burglary and using a credit card without consent.[17][18] He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years' probation in July 2013.[19]

Thorson did not do well on probation. In September 2013, he tested positive for methamphetamine, but was given another chance. He subsequently failed drug tests again — twice in October, and again on November 1, 2013. He was arrested on November 19, 2013, after violating a court order to enter an inpatient treatment facility in Reno two weeks earlier. On January 23, 2014, his probation was revoked and he was sentenced to 8 to 20 years in Nevada prison.[20] Thorson is currently incarcerated in Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City.[citation needed]

Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite BunnyRanch, paid Thorson's $125,000 bail in 2013.[21]


  1. ^ Thorson, Scott & Thorliefson, Alex (1988). Behind the Candelabra — My Life with Liberace. E.P. Dutton Publishing. p. 47. ISBN 0-525-24653-3.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Oprah: Where Are They Now? -Interview with Scott Thorson [TV Series]. (2013). United States: OWN TV (Oprah Winfrey Network).
  3. ^ a b c d e "Interview with Scott Thorson (Transcript)". Larry King Live. CNN. August 12, 2002. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
  4. ^ Metro Digest (16 March 1988). "Local News in Brief: Liberace Companion Held". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ David Segal (2013-05-10). "The Boy Toy's Story". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Liberace's Former Lover Details Secret Romance". Retrieved 2013-06-02.
  7. ^ "Gallery". June 17, 2013.
  8. ^ "Press Express". Retrieved 2013-06-02.
  9. ^ a b Liberace had last laugh on critics by 'crying all the way to the bank' The Pittsburgh Press, February 5, 1987
  10. ^ a b "Celebrity Alimony/Palimony". Celeb Legal Issues.
  11. ^ Jacobs, Rodger (May 29, 2009). "Depression 2.0: Sunday in Kerouac Alley". PopMatters.
  12. ^ Katsilometes, John. "Matt Damon looking forward to playing Liberace's lover in upcoming biopic". Retrieved 2013-06-02.
  13. ^ "Douglas, Damon starring in HBO's Liberace biopic". 2011-10-11. Retrieved 2013-06-02.
  14. ^ Director Steven Soderbergh on new Liberace film. YouTube. 2009-11-20. Retrieved 2013-06-02.
  15. ^ "Liberace's Ex-Lover Claims Gay Affair With Jackson". 2004-04-15.
  16. ^ Staff (2012-10-25). "EXCLUSIVE: Inside Scott Thorson's Cancer Battle". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved 2013-05-04.
  17. ^ Segal, David (May 10, 2013). "The Boy Toy's Story". The New York Times.
  18. ^ "Liberace's Alleged Ex-Lover in Washoe County Jail". KRNV-DT. 2013-05-28. Retrieved 2013-06-02.
  19. ^ "Liberace's Ex-Lover Scott Thorson Sentenced To 5 Years Probation After Using Stolen Credit Cards". Radar Online. Retrieved 2013-07-18.
  20. ^ AP (January 23, 2014). "Liberace's lover Scott Thorson sentenced to prison". USA Today.
  21. ^ "Former Liberace lover Scott Thorson living at Bunny Ranch". UPI. June 10, 2013. Retrieved 2019-02-08.

External linksEdit