When it comes to tacky, nobody holds a candelabra to Liberace. To kick off his current two-week stint at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall (where ticket sales broke all records), Liberace arrived onstage in a shimmering Rolls-Royce limo. "Well, look me over," he advised fans after stepping out with help from his valet, Terry. "I didn't get dressed like this to go unnoticed." Looking down at his long fur coat, the guru of glitz announced that it was virgin fox. "It takes one to know one," he added. Lee continued his high-trashion show between piano numbers, modeling a 137-pound Norwegian Blue Shadow fox cape studded with rhinestones and dangling jewel-encrusted rings before a movie camera so fans could see them on a giant screen. Leaving the show afterward, actor Jeremy Irons, currently in Broadway's hit play The Real Thing, pointed toward the stage and spoke for many. "If you want to see kitsch, there it is," he said. "I couldn't live on it, but it is fun to see."
A New Wrinkle
All My Children star Debbi Morgan, 28, aged about 30 years while working on an upcoming TV movie about track star Jesse Owens. Or at least it looked that way when she put on the makeup for her role as Jesse's wife. So to fend off the autograph-hungry soap fans who descended every time she stepped off the Texas set, Debbi decided to travel incognito by wearing her makeup during one of her days off. As it happens, she evaded her fans only to discover a new problem. Suddenly, some older men started winking at her, and one 65-year-old asked her for a dinner date. So much for the joys of senior citizenship. The next time out, Debbi left her wrinkles at the office.
Father of Invention
Frank Zappa gets some ideas long before everyone else. In 1982 he and his daughter, Moon Unit, released the song Valley Girl and brought a million teenage Val Gals into the headlines. Now Frank has a new project, a classical music tape. Seems Frank came upon an entry in Grove's music encyclopedia for a little-known contemporary of Mozart named Francesco Zappa, who wrote from 1763 to 1788. Thinking he might be an ancestor, Frank searched for Francesco's rare scores and recorded them on a computer programmed to sound like a harpsichord, marimbas and various other instruments. With demo tape in hand, he hopes to clinch a record deal but fears that MTV-crazed music execs won't listen. Says he, "They only want musicians with blue hair and a bone through their noses. Also, it helps to wear a dog collar."
Forget Hollywood. The hot place for moviemaking these days is midtown Manhattan. Filming a Christmas TV movie called It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Mickey Rooney crossed paths a couple of times with Robert DeNiro and Meryl Streep, who were shooting Falling in Love in some of the same locations. As time ticked away during one scene in St. Patrick's Cathedral, a church representative approached the Rooney crew. "If you can't finish up tonight, you can't come back tomorrow," he warned, "because De Niro's got the place."
•Talk about sacrifice for your work. That superhunk Frenchman Christopher Lambert, 26, lost his girlfriend because he spent too much time on his role as Tarzan in Grey-stoke. With faltering English, Lambert explained to the British press, "Because I wasn't there, I wasn't home...she threw me in the dustbin." Which means fini.
•"People ask me how I choose certain parts," Colleen Dewhurst confided to Jim (Barnum) Dale at a 100th anniversary party for Playbill. But, according to Colleen, their question is backward. Said she, "I'm standing here like a piece of beef waiting to be chosen."