Known as Mr. Showmanship, Wladziu Valentino Liberace made countless dollars entertaining audiences through his flamboyant performances. Although his epic materialism is frequently a lot of remembered, there’s a lot even more to Lee—as his friends called him—than rhinerock costumes and also his love of candelabra on pianos. In honor of what would have actually been his 100th birthday on May 16, right here are 13 facts around the entertainer.

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1. Liberace was a child prodigy.

If YouTube existed in the 1920s, videos of a young Liberace expertly playing the piano would certainly absolutely have actually gone viral. Born in Wisconsin on May 16, 1919, Liberace began playing the piano when he was just 3 years old, and began appropriate lessons soon after. He quickly learned to play by ear, replicating the songs his older siblings were playing. It became apparent that he was a prodigy, and by the time he was 7, his father—himself a expert musician that as soon as toured through John Philip Sousa"s concert band also playing the French horn—enrolled him at the Wisconsin College of Music.

2. Wchange Busterkeys was Liberace"s teenage stage name.

As a teenager, Liberace played piano in clubs, movie theaters, symphonies, and also classical music competitions around Wisconsin and also the Midwest. Because his complete name—Wladziu Valentino Liberace—wasn’t the the majority of stage-friendly name, he performed utilizing the name Walter Busterkeys. But around 1940, he chose to go mononymous—he told people that it was bereason his idol, the Polish pianist Ignacy Paderewski, just went by his last name.

3. In spite of Liberace"s success, critics disparaged his piano playing abilities. 

Liberace explained his songs as classical music without all the boring components. Because he integrated elements of pop music into his classic piano playing, classical music purists didn’t like him. And bereason his mirrors relied greatly on showmanship and also spectacle—gimmicks, costumes, and jokes—critics disparaged his talent as a pianist, arguing that he opted for simple piano trills and also showy methods fairly than artisattempt.

4. Liberace popularized the expression "laugh all the way to the bank." 

In 1954, Liberace wrote a letter to a movie critic who had actually composed a scathing review of his display. He (sarcastically) thanked the reviewer and shelp that he and his brvarious other “laughed all the method to the bank” after analysis it. 

5. Liberace"s residence really did have actually a piano-shaped pool. 

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Due to the fact that he was raking in the dough, Liberace’s residences featured elaborate deindicators and ostentatious furniture. His Shermale Oaks, The golden state house, which he resided in with his mommy in the 1950s, was no exception. The entirety residence had actually a music theme—musical notes on the iron fence, musical staffs above the front door, and his well known piano-shaped swimming pool. The pool had actually black and white piano tricks painted on the concrete, making it look choose a gigantic grand piano.

6. Liberace played a pair of twins on Batman in the 1960s.

After his array tv show (referred to as The Liberace Show) aired, he appeared in 2 episodes of Batman in 1966. Liberace depicted a concert pianist and also his evil twin, making for some delighttotally campy viewing.

7. Liberace was a very early champion of Barbra Streisand. 

In 1963, Liberace invited a 21-year-old Barbra Streisand also to be his opening act for a month of mirrors in Las Vegas. He was a large fan of hers, yet when his audience didn"t respond to her after her first 2 nights, Liberace took matters into his very own hands. In a relocate that was largely unheard-of for marquee acts, he went on stage each night prior to her collection to introduce her. He wequipped the audience to her, and also as soon as they realized the young songanxiety had actually been personally preferred by Liberace, they phelp even more attention. Soon, Streisand was winning rave reviews.

8. One of Liberace"s costumes almost killed him.

Throughout a Pittsburgh present in late 1963, Liberace was rushed to the emergency room after collapsing. His costume, which he had cleaned himself via carbon tetrachloride prior to the present, leached the chemical right into his skin, and also he had actually been breathing it all day in an unventilated room. “By the time I gained via my initially number,” Liberace later wrote in his autobiography, “every little thing started going in circles … I had actually never felt so terrible in my life. I rumelted offphase.” Although physicians offered him a 20 percent opportunity of surviving—he even received his last rites—he regulated to endure the wellness crisis.

9. For years, Liberace denied being gay. 

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Although Liberace was gay and promiscuous in his personal life, he publicly denied being a frifinish of Dorothy. When a newspaper and tabloid publimelted articles implying he was gay in the late 1950s, he sued them for libel and won. Even after his former lover Scott Thorboy sued him for palimony, Liberace denied that he was gay. When he died in February 1987 at age 67, his spokesguy announced that Liberace died due to congestive heart failure, however the county coroner’s autopsy showed that he passed away of AIDS-associated pneumonia.

10. Betty White was Liberace"s cshed friend.

In 2011, Betty White revealed to CNN that once they were founding their careers, periodically the tv producer whom they were both functioning through would have Liberace escort her to events (which many type of have taken as White acting as a beard for the closeted Liberace). White recalled an event once he accompanied her to a movie premiere one windy night, and instead of reaching his hand also out to assist her acquire out of the automobile, Liberace was concentrated on keeping his hair in place. She dubbed him a sweetheart and a “great and dear individual friend.”

11. Liberace published a cookbook.

Liberace owned Tivoli Gardens, a restaurant in Las Vegas, and he turned his love of food into a effective cookbook. 1970’s Liberace Cooks! featured recipes for pierogi, squid casseduty, belevated oxtails, and even calves’ brains in babsence butter.

12. His initially (and only) starring film duty was a substantial faientice. 

Sincedepend Yours was a 1955 film starring Liberace as a successful concert pianist who goes deaf. But the movie, distributed by Warner Brothers, was a substantial flop. It was so negative that at the 1982 Academy Awards, Liberace joked that “I’ve done my part for motion pictures—I’ve quit making them.”

13. He invented a disappearing toilet.

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Liberace designed a retracting toilet that folded into the wall of a bathroom. “There"s just no reason why you need to walk into a bathroom and view a toilet," he told Rolling Stone in 1981. "It"s unglamorous.” Although he had actually a patent on the rotating toilet, it didn’t take off.