This week marked the 100th birthday for “Mr. Showmanship” who was born in West Allis, WI.
In the early 1980’s when I was working for WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio I covered a news conference at the Zablocki VA Medical Center grounds. Plans at the time were to re-name the theater after Liberace who attended the news conference. His boyhood home was very close to the VA, and during the news conference he mentioned that he played piano in the Ward Theater for Civil War veterans.
In a response to one of my questions Liberace said he was thrilled that he could be alive to enjoy the honor of seeing the ancient theater named after him. But those plans fell through.
Today the hope is to revitalize the theater, seen in this video from last year.
Liberace had quite the resume, including his dual role in two episodes of “Batman” in 1966. He was a natural for the campy program.
Liberace passed away on February 4, 1987, at his home in Palm Springs, California. Initially, his doctor reported that the showman died of cardiac arrest. Later, an autopsy by the Riverside County coroner concluded that Liberace had actually died of AIDS-related pneumonia.
A proclamation was issued this week.