Picks and Pans Review: Liberace: An American Boy
by Darden Asbury Pyron
"Do you like my outfit?" Liberace would purr to the audience after making a stage entrance in yet another gaudy, jewel-encrusted costume. "You should," he would add. "You paid for it."
The flamboyant entertainer never admitted publicly to being gay, but he made winking, is-he-or-isn't-he jokes a staple of his act. For 40-plus years, until just months before his death from AIDS at age 67 in 1987, the pianist wowed his mostly female fans with his candelabra, corny jokes and easy-listening mix of pop ditties and classical standards. He may not have been "the greatest showman of the 20th century," a grandiose claim Pyron (Southern Daughter: The Life of Margaret Mitchell) makes in this bloated, overly analytical bio, but he was certainly one of a kind. (University of Chicago, $27.50)
Bottom Line: All that glitters isn't gold
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