rotten > Library > Biographies > Entertainers > Music > Liberace > The Hollywood Confidential Article (1957)

Note: This article got Hollywood Confidential sued in 1957. We just want to point out that we have no idea if it's entirely made up or completely true.

Why LIBERACE'S theme song should be... "Mad About The Boy"
By HORTON STREETE

THERE ARE FEW SHOW BUSINESS PERSONALITIES today with a gaudier sense of theater than the Kandelabra Kid himself, Liberace. You know the routine - grand piano, glittering suit, glimmering candles, Brother George on the violin, and so on.

But the pudgy pianist's many faithful fans would have popped their girdles if they had witnessed their idol in action last year in an offstage production that saw old Kittenish on the Keys play one sour note after another in his clumsy efforts to make beautiful music with a handsome but highly reluctant young publicity man.

In one of the zaniest plots in theatrical history, this comedy of errors rang up the curtain in Akron, Ohio, played a crazy Act Two in Los Angeles, and closed in Dallas, Texas with the wildest finale since "Hellzapoppin'." The show had everything: unrequited love... conflict... mob scenes... low comedy. And through it all throbbed the theme song, "Mad About the Boy."

It all started when the handsome press agent was brought to Akron from New York to breathe life into what was threatening to become a dying enterprise - an outdoor Fourth of July spectacular to be held in the Akron Rubber Bowl. Along with stock car races, the big attraction was to be the glamorous Liberace.

Promoting the show and committed to shell out $35,000 to Liberace was an Ohio promoter, the man who had sent the S.O.S. to the publicity specialist. By the time of Liberace's arrival in Akron by plane on Tuesday July 3rd, the promoter and the hard-working drum-beater had whipped up a gala welcome at the airport that included six slick chicks to drive cars in a motorcade.

A clue on what was to follow might have been found right at the start when Liberace, resplendent in a frilly white lace shirt with red polka dots, minced down the ramp from the plane. As news photographers crowded around, one of the curvy cuties planted a kiss on his dimpled cheek. Fatso managed to flash a toothy smile for the cameras, but his heart clearly wasn't in it. He had just been introduced to the young publicity man and was getting ideas.

Arriving at the Sheraton-Mayflower Hotel, he wasted no time persuading the press agent to join him in his suite for a drink. The latter went along with the invite, figuring it was his job to keep Dimples happy. He had no idea that in a few short minutes he would be fighting for his honor. And so it was in all innocence that he informed his host: "Whatever you want - I'm your boy."

With a little coo of delight, the beaming Liberace promptly threw his arm around the flack's shoulders and simpered: "That I like!"

The press agent firmly disengaged himself and began mixing drinks. His host meanwhile tripped into the adjacent bedroom and returned wearing an elegant robe and an ardent look. Flouncing over to the couch, Liberace flung himself on its full length, propped his chin on his hands and gazed tenderly at his young guest. "You I like," he purred.

"That's swell," said the drum-beater nervously, "but I gotta go," and he started up from his chair. The next thing the publicity man knew he was right back in it again with Liberace sitting on his lap!

The scene that followed had all the lively action and wild comedy of a TV wrestling match - with a few things added. Dimples clamped on a headlock. His victim fought to keep from being pinned, but he was at a disadvantage. For one thing, he was outweighed. For another, he needed a referee. A referee certainly would have penalized the panting pianist for illegal holds.

Once during the scuffle the press agent let out a yelp of pain, and no wonder... For Luscious Libby, it was strictly no-holds-barred. Finally, with a sort of combination wristlock and flying mare, the publicity man wrenched loose from his host's embrace and fled from the suite, leaving Liberace sprawled on the floor.

Out in the corridor, our hero stopped to catch his breath and to vow fervently that he would never get in a spot like that again with the eager pianist.

How wrong can you get? He didn't know it, but it was only intermission coming up, and that was to be packed with action, too, but of a different kind. First, bad weather and perhaps a touch of apathy resulted in a disappointing turnout for the Fourth of July spectacular, and Liberace's appearance was postponed for two days. When his concert finally did go on at the Rubber Bowl, it was to the fortissimo accompaniment of planes taking off every few minutes from a nearby airport and drowning out Libby's keyboard capers.

After the concert, Liberace's trailer-dressing room got the rock-and-roll treatment from noisy crowds impatient to see the stock car races. At the height of the confusion, Liberace minced over to the press agent as though the hotel room scene had never happened, pecked him on the cheek and murmured: "Who do you love?" The rich profanity he drew in return seemed to bother Dimples not one whit. Everything in his manner indicated he still hoped to play a tender duet with the object of his affections.

Liberace got his chance about two weeks later when the Ohio promoter persuaded the reluctant ballyhoo boy - by means of a fee and expense money - to fly out to Los Angeles and settle some litigation that had arisen in connection with Libby's Akron show. All the press agent had to do was get Fatso's signature on a couple of releases and the matter would be settled.

Liberace agreed to sign but first he insisted on fun and frolic, and the pair had dinner and drinks at Trader Vic's until it closed. After a visit to another spot, they headed back to town, with Libby at the wheel of his jazzy Cadillac with the black and white piano-key upholstery. He steered the car into Trader Vic's darkened parking lot and came to a stop. Before the young press agent could make his escape, he found himself playing a tune, you might say, on the upholstered piano keys - a frantic little number called "Let Me Go, Lover." He finally managed to break loose, once more vowing profanely, "Never again!"

And once more he was wrong, because right about that time the plot really began to thicken. Liberace got coy about signing the releases and the disgusted publicity man went back to New York. The Ohio promoter promptly contacted him again, mentioned money, and the press agent was soon off to make one more stab at getting the releases signed, this time in Dallas, where Dimples was appearing in "The Great Waltz."

By now, the drum-beater was beginning to feel like the harried hero of some maniacal melodrama, chasing a perfumed villain with the mortgage papers. In the lobby of the Stoneleigh Hotel in Dallas, where Liberace was staying, the flack warned an associate: "If you don't hear from me pretty quick come up after me." He wanted no more boy-and-boy games with the kewpie of the keyboard.

Trouble was, no one bothered to tell Liberace that the script was to be different this time. When the young public relations man walked into Suite 602, it was Akron all over again. There was Libby, reeking of perfume and wearing that same robe.

After a few conversational preliminaries, Fatso plumped onto the couch alongside his young guest, and before you could say Gorgeous George, the pair were playing a return wrestling match. In a matter of moments, it turned into a boxing bout, too, with the press agent throwing desperate lefts and rights at Liberace. The latter, his determination stiffening, merely clung tighter.

The floor show reached its climax when Dimples, by sheer weight, pinned his victim's shoulders to the mat and mewed into his face: "Gee, you're cute when you're mad!"

At that insane moment the door opened and in walked the flack's friend. To the young publicity chap, he was the U.S. Cavalry riding to the rescue in the nick of time. The press agent's pal stood there speechless.

Liberace jumped to to his feet and greeted the newcomer with some sort of world record for aplomb. "Forgive the room," he panted, "we've been playing."

That ended the mad farce. The tired press agent was soon heading back east -without the papers and, for all we know, they never did get that legal tangle unsnarled.

One thing is sure, though. The whole delirious fiasco served as a powerful object lesson to the handsome young publicity man. He knows now that it's time to hit the road when a client tries to turn public relations into private relations.


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