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Publisher's Summary

In this unusually frank book Scott Thorson, Liberace's longtime lover, tells all: the good, the bad, and the ugly truths about the legendary entertainer who went to outrageous extremes to prevent public knowledge of his homosexuality.
Liberace's unhappy childhood, dominated by a mother determined to force him into a concert career, serves as the prologue for a story that goes on to detail Liberace's early appearances in honky-tonks, his move to New York to seek fame, and, finally, his first booking in Las Vegas, where he was courted by the Mafia.
As Thorson attests, such successes provide a bright counterpoint to a darker tale of a man hungry for power, given to every excess. Liberace's credo - "too much of a good thing is wonderful" - is reflected here in his acquisition of new lovers, luxurious homes, a large collection of pornography, and a total of 26 house dogs.
Behind the Candelabra above all explores the fundamentally tender love affair between Liberace and Thorson - whom Liberace sent to his own plastic surgeon to have his face remodeled in Liberace's own image!
This fast-paced story, sprinkled with anecdotes about famous entertainers such as Michael Jackson and Shirley MacLaine, ends with an intimate look at Liberace's final days as he lay dying of AIDS - and his deathbed reconciliation with Thorson. Thorson's story will also appear in the upcoming biopic of the same name starring award-winning actors Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.
©1988, 2013 Scott Thorson with Alex Thorleifson (P)2013 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Jeffrey on 05-26-13

Viciously honest, candid, sad, fascintating!

Reading this book was like witnessing a violent car accident. You can't turn away, you have to see (read) it through even though in many places you just want to stop and you kind of know in advance that there will be no happy ending and indeed there is not.

The writing style is nothing to "write" home about but one must remember that this book was written in the latter 80's, early 90's for readers' sensibilities back then. It's especially annoying when Mr. Thorson editorializes about gay life and culture using simplistic and hackneyed cliches that are entirely laughable now-a-days.

The narration by Peter Berkrot was spectacular. One felt one was listening to Thorson in person, and the narrator's vocal inflections of Mr. Liberace are worth any downside that the rather bland narrative otherwise presents.

As for the actual events and behaviors presented by the book of Mr. Thorson's life with Lee Liberace and what to think of them, it would be unfair to judge either party. There was presented enough nauseating dysfunction for both men to last ten families ten lifetimes.

In the end, I felt very sad for Mr. Thorson. I believe to this day that he still loves Lee Liberace and will die doing so. It's just such a shame that people have to go through this soft of thing as it affects them until their death. Best of luck to Mr. Thorsen. Rest in peace, Mr. Liberace.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

By reallyrob on 05-16-13

I Believe!

I have been a life long fan of Liberace. My mom and grandmother loved him, so we always watched him when he was on television. Liberace was one of the first shows I ever saw in Las Vegas. Having met Liberace personally while on a trip to Las Vegas, I can honestly say he was very nice, but come'd have to be blind to not know he was gay. I read this book about 23 years ago. With the Michael Douglas movie coming out, I decided I wanted to read it again, so I am getting it either for my Kindle or Audible. I do believe most of what is in this book. You have to look at the time... the early 1980's...All of his peers knew, at that time an entertainer did not come out as gay...most of his fans were older women, it would have been career suicide. No one really knew what Aids was or how you got it. I'm sure if everyone knew back then about Aids, and how it was spread and how to prevent it Liberace would have lived and been performing up into his 80's. There was another movie about Scott and Liberace that had Victor Garber portraying Lee. The end of that movie almost had me in tears when he was taking the hairpiece off at the end. When I met Liberace, I could see what Scott saw in him...he had a way of making you feel special. When you're 18, you just want to fit in and be accepted, so I can see how a young guy could make Lee their life and lose themselves. Read this book, you won't be disappointed. Liberace was a true performer...just seeing him perform, you knew why he was the highest paid entertainer in the world. He made a brand of himself...the Piano...the restaurant, the museum....sadly the museum and the restaurant and Lee are only memories, but his legacy will live on.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By CHRISTINE on 01-11-15


If you could sum up Behind the Candelabra in three words, what would they be?

Sad. Shocking eyeopening

Who was your favorite character and why?

Probably Liberace himself though sometimes because of his stage act you forget how talented he was as a pianist it also shows if you have enough money you can cover up anything that you want to

Would you listen to another book narrated by Peter Berkrot?

Not sure

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

How to spend your whole life living a lie

Any additional comments?

Scott could have walked away from the situation at any time obviously it suited him not to

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By Jennifer on 08-03-13

Hear the story first

Would you consider the audio edition of Behind the Candelabra to be better than the print version?

Yes, I would advise anyone to sit back and listen to the truth. It took me around a week. I am sure some would prefer listening to it in a day.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Behind the Candelabra?

I was surprised the at the beginning of Liberace's life was interesting and surprised at how hard he worked. I loved listening to their life on the road and how they entertained guests. The break up of the relationship was inevitable. However, unforgettable is the last paragraph (the end) and their last conversation.

What about Peter Berkrot’s performance did you like?

Overall he was very good throughout.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

How Scott Thorson got hooked on drugs, and how he was asked to leave the Liberace estate.

Any additional comments?

I am glad the book did not get carried away with sex scenes.

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