RhinestoneCarThe Rhinestone Roadster: After driving the “Rhinestone Roadster” for his finales during performances at Radio City Music Hall in 1986, Liberace’s famous rhinestone covered car, has now been spotted parked in New York’s Time Warner Center—on loan from the Liberace Estate as part of a larger promotional exhibition behind HBO’s premier of “Behind the Candelabra”.

The exhibit contains a “collection of artifacts” from the Liberace Estate, and for those of who have a thing for bling, it’s an up close look at some of what Liberace was best known for, from his candelabra and piano, to costumes, programs and more—along with replicas of items used in making the movie. The replicas were recreated from originals that were either too delicate or created to mimic the real thing replacing Liberace’s face with actor Michael Douglas’ as he’s playing Liberace in the film.

Mr. Showmanship


In the exhibit, Liberace is quoted as saying, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful!” Known for being a consummate performer, he lived large and lavishly in public and private. In that vein, his crystallized Baldwin Piano, also displayed, was just one of more than 30 pianos he owned and customized. The exhibit shares the fact the piano was created in the 80’s using 200 pounds of Austrian rhinestones. And sitting atop is one of his famous gold candelabras, with the explanation that the candelabra became a signature item in 1945 after playing at New York’s Persian room where he “got the idea from a scene in the movie ‘A Song to Remember’ in which a gorgeous candelabra adds light to a mysterious performance.”

Quite a Closet

CandelabraBootsAmong the showcases are a number of costumes Liberace wore on and off the stage. Sequins, feathers, florals, and colors were a theme in these over-the-top items. From his purple ostrich suit, worn at Radio City Music Hall performances (he entered suspended from a wire above the stage), to his Rhinestone Suit (it matched the car and piano), to his Mexico City Suit (a matador costume he wore in the 70’s and 80’s both in his Las Vegas Hilton and Mexico City performances), each costume allows you to see a man who knew how to put on a show outside of his music. His black piano keys costume, for instance, was “not designed for the stage, but for Liberace’s appearances.” His Candelabra Boots were worn in 1956 on “The John Gary Show”. And replicas of his rings are accompanied by another quote in which he joked, “People ask how I can play with all those rings and I reply, ‘Very well, thank you.’ ”

What You May Not Have Known

The Liberace Foundation tweets out interesting little tidbits—things like “A classic Batman episode stars #Liberace as twins Chandell & Harry.” And “Little known fact: Liberace had a twin that died at birth in real life.” 

According to the exhibit, “It was rumored that Liberace applied for and received one of the only two private gambling licenses in the state of Nevada so that he could install a slot machine for his mother, who preferred playing in the comfort of her own home to the lavish surroundings in Las Vegas.” So it seems only natural that a replica of the Liberace Slot Machine was part of the display.

Viva Las Vegas

RhinestonePianoParadise, Nevada, was home to the Liberace Museum that he founded in 1979 housing his famous costumes, pianos and more until closing in 2010. If you had a chance to visit, you may have brought home some kitchsy souvenirs and some fun memories. The Liberace Foundation has excitedly tweeted out that it’s working on reopening in a new location in Downtown Las Vegas in 2014.

So, if you’ved miss the free exhibit in New York, there’s always Vegas, baby. (Or if you can’t travel, you can watch Michael Douglas play the legendary Liberace, along with Matt Damon in the role of Scott Thorson, Liberace’s former chauffeur and romantic partner in the HBO production. This one’s not for the kids.) The spirit of Liberace is back for another curtain call.