Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Behind the Candelabra: The Real Story of Liberace and Scott Thorson

posted by Nell Minow

Behind the Candelabra premieres this weekend on HBO.  It is based on the hard to believe but true story of one of the most popular and flamboyant stars of the 1950’s and 60’s, who went by just one name: Liberace.

YouTube Preview Image

Wladziu Valentino Liberace was an American of Polish/Italian heritage, a gifted classical pianist, a masterful showman, and a pioneer in the art of celebrity branding and marketing.  He was multi-platform before the term was invented For decades he was the highest-paid entertainer in the world.  He had record albums, endorsements, and movie and television appearances and his own series, but it was his live stage show that was what people loved most.  He never tried for a career as a serious classical musician, performing with orchestras in concert halls.  He liked to play what he called “classical music with the boring parts left out.”  And the show was as important as the music, from the flashy pianos to costumes Lady Gaga would envy.  Ermine capes.  Crystal-encrusted tuxes.  Feather boas.  Chandeliers and of course candelabras.  Excess was not enough.

YouTube Preview Image

It was a different era.  Liberace was not openly gay.  On the contrary, when a British newspaper called him “a deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love,” he sued under their notoriously strict libel laws. testified under oath that he was not a homosexual, and won.

liberace THORSENIn the late 70’s, Liberace met a handsome teenager named Scott Thorson.  They were together for five years, and after they broke up (and Thorson was “fired” as Liberace’s chauffeur), Thorson sued him for “palimony.”  It was settled out of court.  Thorson is now in jail, charged with identity theft.  He has had removed the plastic surgery prosthetic Liberace paid for so that Thorson would look more like an idealized version of himself when young.  Thorson’s book, Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace, tells the story of their love affair and the unimaginable excesses of their life together and is the inspiration for this film.  It is in competition at Cannes and will be released theatrically overseas, but in the US no studio would back it, so it is on HBO.

Steven Soderbergh (“Oceans 11,” “Traffic,” “Erin Brockovich”) directed and it stars Michael Douglas as Liberace, Matt Damon as Thorson, and Debbie Reynolds, who knew Liberace, as his mother.

YouTube Preview Image



  • Liane Layman

    Its sad that Scott is back in jail and can’t get his life together. People like Oprah and Tyler Perry also had bad childhoods and made something good out of their lives, it’s too bad Scott can’t, even though not everybody can be like Oprah or Tyler.

    • Nell Minow

      It is sad, Liane. Not everyone has the talent and fortitude of Oprah and Tyler Perry. Thanks for your comment.

Previous Posts

23 Blast
23 Blast is the name of a football play, and "23 Blast" is based on the real story of Travis Freeman, a high school football star who lost his sight, but, with the help of a courageous coach and committed teammates, was able to keep playing. The real hero of the movie is the coach, played by "Ava

posted 3:57:18pm Oct. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: Little Hope Was Harson, Story of Church Burnings
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/EYk-EU9Ydyw?rel=0" frameborder="0"] Available in select theaters and nationwide VOD beginning Nov 21! For more info, please visit: http://littlehopewasarson.com. January 2010: In the buckle of the Bible Belt, 10 churches burn to

posted 1:00:10pm Oct. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: The Avengers: Age of Ultron
[iframe src="http://www.movieweb.com/v/VI0Fjch2c6ld24/embed_video" width="400" height="225" frameborder="0"] I'm very excited about the next Avengers movie, coming out next spring, and it's a great trailer with the bleak images, random ballerinas, and creepy re-do of the classic song from "Pinocc

posted 8:38:38am Oct. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Interviews: "Art and Craft's" Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman
The documentary "Art and Craft" is the extraordinary story of two men.  One is Mark Landis, an artist who created counterfeit paintings and then disguised himself as various philanthropist perso

posted 8:00:06am Oct. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Is This the End of Television?
Last week both cable giant HBO and broadcast giant CBS made announcements that signal the end of television as we know it.  Both responded to the clear message of the market and said that they would make their content available in the form and via the delivery system consumers prefer -- the interne

posted 3:24:08pm Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.