My mother loved him. My aunts loved him, too. It seemed just about every “older woman” I knew (and that was every female over the age of about 14) thought he was great.
Nearly 20 years to the day after my mother’s death, the news was filled with reports of his death. The world had certainly changed in those years. He wasn’t remembered so much for his musical ability (which actually was very good) or his philanthropy. Nor, was he credited for inspiring other entertainers such as Elton John, David Bowie and even Elvis. And, certainly he was not remembered during that news cycle because he was good to his mother. No, the news of Liberace’s death that cold winter day in 1987 was filled with sordid tidbits meant to scandalize his memory.
As a 12 year old boy, I figured him to be just weird and really corny. He certainly was different. He was no Davy Crockett or Jim Bowie, two of my favorite t.v. heroes.
I enjoyed watching the Ed Sullivan Show with the family, I mean, who didn’t like Topo Gigio or a troupe of harmonica players featuring a dwarf? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Pnv42IRmNY But, when he came on the t.v., I would just look at my mother and say, “How can you like this guy, he’s awful”? I’m not sure if it was his smile or his wild outfits or his music. But, I couldn’t think of anything good to say about this guy. Nothing. So, mom gave me the best answer she could give a 12 year old lunk-head: “Well, he’s very talented and he’s good to his mother”. End of story.
So, it remains. Our “news” continues almost incessantly to be filled with “gotcha” moments of celebrities, politicians and even private folks caught, or pushed, into moments in which their better natures are not on display. Some folks, it seems, have these moments more frequently than others. But, might it just be possible, that before cheering for “our side” when someone of an opposing viewpoint or group is maligned that we maybe consider that they were “good to their mother”?
Thank you, Mr. Liberace, for being the impetus of a lesson well taught.