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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Fabulously Gay Liberace Entertained -- Unironically -- in 1954 Christmas TV Episode

Posted By on Wed, Dec 21, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Among many other things, Liberace was a 1950s television pioneer. His nationally syndicated program Liberace was one of the first of its kind, immensely profitable, and -- to me -- still genuinely, unironically entertaining. Ol' Lee just radiated charisma, and he especially loved Christmas. (And, yes, he also loved cock. Seriously, who cares about that anymore?)

Every Liberace episode, Christmas-themed or not, started with him performing the song "I Don't Care (As Long As You Care For Me)," during which his fans would anxiously await his first wink. This time, it occurs at 0:47.

That wink set the hearts of millions of his female fans aflutter. The documentary The Legendary Liberace includes a contemporaneous song on the subject, a performance that may feature the first televised representation of pure girly horniness:

Back on the show, Liberace plays "winter music", as well as Santa Claus music for the kiddies.

The show was endlessly inventive in its use of such a small set, like the shadowy guy playing the radiator-looking thing during "White Christmas."

For some reason, Liberace's claim that he went on sleigh rides during Christmas as a kid irks me. Oh, you did not.

Santa and sleigh rides (stop lying!) are all fine and good, but it's time for shit to get real, Christianity-wise. "The fields are tinged with strange celestial light," from a Christmas annual by Grace Noll Crowell, is a pretty cool line.

A beautiful performance of "O Holy Night" is only slightly marred by an unfortunate closeup of the violinist and bandleader, Liberace's brother George.

Party time! The stream of arrivals reminds me of that M*A*S*H scene where Hawkeye names all the enlisted men as his relatives so they can get into the Officer's Club. Also, foxy harpist Corky Hale recently played at the Lincoln Center. Go Corky!

After a rousing "Jingle Bells" sing-along, Liberace signs off with his standard show-closer of "I'll Be Seeing You," while his mother heroically remains upright behind him.

Sadly, Liberace has never gotten a proper video release, but The Legendary Liberace (available from Netflix and Amazon) has tons of clips from the show and the rest of his never-boring career. Check it out. ------ Sherilyn Connelly is a San Francisco-based writer. She also curates and hosts Bad Movie Night at The Dark Room, every Sunday at 8 p.m.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF (follow Sherilyn Connelly on Twitter at @sherilyn) and like us on Facebook.

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