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Mr Showmanship, Liberace – as controversial as ever!

Jim & Liberace

Mr Showmanship, Liberace

Many of you will remember my fabulous trip to Uncle Sam’s homeland. In 1972 and 1973 I toured as special guest artist to my friend and greatest show business mentor, Mr Showmanship, Liberace.

You might also recall the rumours that were circulating about me at the time. Some people insisted that such an association would end up with me wanting to wear pink lipstick. The same people also added that I’d probably come back to Australia speaking with a pronounced lisp (somebody’s actual words to me at the time – and not my own).

Click image for larger version Name: Liberace wardrobe.jpg Views: 1 Size: 52.0 KB ID: 66309Most people who knew me during that period of my life were quick to tell the doubters they were wrong. They pointed out that I seemed to develop a crush on almost every pretty girl I met. My friends were also happy to reveal that I was just a normal red blooded Aussie kid, fighting a losing battle with raging teenage hormones.

Anyway, as it turned out, the rumors eventually ceased and the hormones settled down. I went on to marry and become a proud father of two very beautiful girls (seriously, they really are mine).

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Behind The Candelabra

The reason I’m reminiscing here is because I’ve been asked to give my thoughts on my Uncle Lee’s amazingly full, flamboyant and controversial life. A supposedly factual biopic/movie based on his life is causing a bit of a stir, and a growing number of people have asked me to ‘clear the air’. The movie in question is “Behind The Candelabra”, starring Michael Douglas as my uncle Lee. Matt Damon took on the roll of Liberace’s former lover and chauffeur, Scott Thorson.

“Behind The Candelabra” is based on Thorson’s autobiographical novel “Behind The Candelabra: My Life With Liberace”. A report I read suggested that my great friend Seymour Heller who managed Liberace for over 37 incredibly successful years, is depicted as a rude and materially motivated character.

Click image for larger version Name: Jim and Lee.jpg Views: 1 Size: 169.9 KB ID: 66307If what I’ve heard about the movie and it’s portrayal of Seymour is true, it’s a far cry from the man I knew and respected. Seymour was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known, and a very generous human being.

Lee and Seymour
Liberace with longtime manager and close friend, Seymour Heller. Image Source:

The truth is, movies created by family or friends after an entertainers demise have the potential to be misleading. Such movies can often reflect a very biased perspective on a relationship. It can also be very unfair when the entertainer in question doesn’t even have the usual right of reply.

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I can’t possibly believe anything the movie has to say, if Seymour Heller is depicted as having character traits that are completely opposite to the man I knew and worked with for more than three years.

Was Liberace A Good Man?

What are my thoughts on the character of Mr Showmanship, Liberace? Did I notice anything about him that was negative in any way? I’m asked questions like this a lot – and here’s my usual response.

Liberace was a class act, in every way you can imagine. He was the the biggest and most popular entertainer in the world – the entertainer most other entertainers looked up to as a leader in their field. Such fame and success could have gone to his head, but it didn’t. Did he have faults? Of course, don’t we all? But mostly he was an incredibly genuine, sincere and kind hearted man. I never knew him to be anything less than an extremely admirable human being.

It’s interesting to note that when talking on the phone with Seymour a number of years back, I got the distinct impression that he and Scott didn’t get along. Read into that what you will – but I’ll be keeping it in mind if I ever decide to watch “Behind The Candelabra”.

Vegas show opening

Liberace in the 1940’s as Walter Busterkeys

With my friend Jack Benny

With my friend Sammy Davis Jnr


Audio Liberace and me

Seymour Tribute link

Seymour Heller Wikipedia

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Jamie Redfern
Jamie was Australian entertainment's most successful child entertainer. Currently, he remains one of Australia's finest entertainers – and is also a contemporary vocal coach, songwriter, motivational speaker, journalist, and television producer. The Jamie Redfern story is part of Australian show business history. Now regarded as a living legend, the many accolades Jamie has achieved in his wonderful career speak for themselves and listed below are only a few. • Australia's highest paid and most popular entertainer • The founding team member on Australia's legendary television phenomenon Young Talent Time. • 22 silver record awards. • 22 gold record awards ( the equivalent of numerous platinum awards by today’s standards ) • Logie awards. • The King of pop award ( Australia's best male vocalist ) • Three time winner of Australia's most popular record of the year award. • Record breaking return appearances by unprecedented public demand on 6 major USA television shows including the legendary Johnny Carson Show and the Mike Douglas show. • The amazing title of Australia's Mr Show business. • Named by Elvis Presley and Sammy Davis Junior as the best child singer and performer in the world. Jamie’s return to live performing is something his fans have long waited for, and he’s singing and performing better than ever !