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Guest: Liberace

The Howard Miller Show

Guest: Liberace 

Oct 29 1955





ANNOUNCER: Wrigley's Spearmint Gum presents "The Howard Miller Show." 


ANNOUNCER: And now here with music on records is Howard Miller. 

MILLER: Thank you very much, Eddie Joyce. Good morning, everyone. This is Howard Miller with a delightful and a wonderful surprise for you because in just a moment or so we're gonna meet one of our dearest friends in show business and a gentleman who rightfully can lay claim to the title of the number one man in show business today, as a matter of fact, the number one show business personality. His name, of course, as you know from publicity yesterday, is Liberace. And waiting there in his suite in the Ambassador Hotel is Liberace himself to talk to you about not only his record career and his television career, but his fabulous new success, a fine Warner Brothers picture starring Liberace and called "Sincerely Yours," which has its world premiere across the nation on this coming weekend.

However, before we travel over to the world-famed Ambassador Hotel, let me mention just a word about Wrigley's Spearmint Chewing Gum. You know, of all the products that the average announcer gets to talk about to his friends across the nation, I don't think any announcer has been more proud or more pleased or privileged to be able to boast about a product that he advertises as much as I can about Wrigley's Spearmint. Of all the products ever made -- anywhere -- there is none finer, none more wholesome, refreshing, or delicious than Wrigley's Spearmint Chewing Gum. Now remember: Halloween just two days away. And for you mamas all over the nation, when the kids come callin' "tricks or treats," remember there's nothing finer you can feed those little tummies of the little kids all over the nation than Wrigley's Spearmint. So you buy it by the box today and have it ready for the big "tricks or treats" celebration day after tomorrow. But remember to have the best: Wrigley's Spearmint Chewing Gum. There's nothing finer. 

Well, now let's go over to this world-famous hostelry, the Ambassador Hotel on the near north side in the bohemian section of Chicago, to talk to this pal of ours -- and, gee, I'm so very proud that he is my friend -- Liberace. Lee, welcome to Chicago.

LIBERACE: Thank you, Howard. It's just wonderful being here and having this opportunity to talk to you and your many friend-listeners. 

MILLER: Well, they're friends of yours, too, Lee, because we're being heard even in your home community of Milwaukee right now; we're being heard in your chosen land now, California, because out there, of course, it's 8:45, but maybe mother's listening, do you suppose? 

LIBERACE: Well, I think she might be; very likely, because she's an early riser. 

MILLER: I know she is. Lee, so many wonderful things have happened to you since you left the Middle West to take up this great career of yours out on the west coast of California, but I know that, through it all, you've never lost one ounce of humility and you must feel very kindly to the American people for their great acceptance of you.

LIBERACE: Yes, I feel very privileged that they have chosen me, er, to enjoy this coveted place in show business that they have placed me in, and I'm very, very grateful to all of them.

MILLER: Well, you've deserved it, so it's been of mutual benefit to both the public and to yourself. Am I wrong in referring to you now as Lee? I think, legally, no longer is Lee a part of your name, is it? 

LIBERACE: Well, Lee has become a rather popular nickname that was given to me by people early in my career who found Liberace too big of a mouthful. 


LIBERACE: And the Lee kind of grew out of the fact that people started to pronounce my name-- They'd say "Leeeee---berrrr"-- You know--


LIBERACE: --and they never got past the Lee. (CHUCKLES) 

MILLER: Oh, I see. But Lee was never really a name as such; it was just a nickname then, taken from Liberace.

LIBERACE: That's right.

MILLER: Well, what was your formal and legal name as a small boy up in Milwaukee, Lib?

LIBERACE: Well, I'll tell you, Howard, it was the Polish equivalent of Walter--

MILLER: Uh huh.

LIBERACE: --and most of my youthful friends in Milwaukee will remember me as - as Walter. And then my middle name was Valentino, and then my family name was Liberace. 

MILLER: Yes. How would you pronounce that in the native tongue? 


MILLER: Was it pronounced as Liberace? 

LIBERACE: Oh, yes. It's, uh, it's almost the Italian pronunciation. In Italian, you roll the "r" a little bit. You say "Liberace."

MILLER: "Liberace." 


MILLER: Wonderful. All right now, Lee, after you left Milwaukee and went out into show business, what was actually your goal or your ambition? I'm sure that you are a positive enough thinker that you had an ambition or a goal. Was it to play concert piano or was it to play pop music -- or was it to take the channel, the facet, that it has taken?

LIBERACE: Well, actually, I never really found my path in music and in the entertainment world until I reached the great majority of people that television was able to introduce me to, and up until then I'd enjoyed some wonderful audiences in concerts and in nightclubs and in theaters, but I never was quite sure I was doing the thing that was to be accepted by the greater majority until I went on television and found out that this mixture of playing the classics and popular, and talking and giving out with bits of my philosophy in life and-- That seemed to be the format that they wanted to hear from me and then I was sure I was on the right path. 

MILLER: Yes. I can sum it up and probably say it in a way that it won't place a burden on you, Lee, if I say that what you have done is come to the people with a pure and simple and a very wholesome and fine attitude about American life and that's, of course, why they love you so very much.

LIBERACE: Well, thank you, Howard. 

MILLER: Now, Lee, since you've gone out to California, of course, and made these tremendous strides in television and become a nationwide figure, an international figure, Warner Brothers have seen wise to sign you to, I presume, an exclusive movie pact, is that right?

LIBERACE: That's right.

MILLER: And the purpose of your being here in Chicago now and our opportunity of talking to you is because you're here for what will constitute the world premiere of this great motion picture "Sincerely Yours." 

LIBERACE: That's right, Howard. It's my first starring role in a motion picture; I had dabbled in pictures before, in musical shorts at RKO, and I made a picture with Shelley Winters some years ago where I had a small bit part, but this was a real challenge--


LIBERACE: --carrying the title role in a picture and - and being on the screen about ninety-five percent of the time of the entire picture. 

MILLER: Well, Lee, didn't you also contribute much to the storyline of "Sincerely Yours"? 

LIBERACE: Yes, Howard, I feel I did, because this being a new medium, everyone was a little doubtful about the type of picture that I should make for my first one.


LIBERACE: And originally it was thought that perhaps I should do a remake of something that had been done before. 

MILLER: I remember they considered "Golden Boy" for you, didn't they? 

LIBERACE: That was one of the considerations, and they also were thinking of "The Man Who Came to Dinner." And I listened to all the suggestions and then I said I'm not a story writer, but I do feel that whatever story I do on the screen should contain the qualities and the various facets of my work that have been accepted and recognized by the public and unless this first motion picture contained all these various things that they see in me personally and in my work, I felt it would be disappointing.


LIBERACE: And I think "Sincerely Yours" accomplished that purpose, if no other. I am very, very grateful that--

MILLER: (INTERRUPTS) Well, Lee, I can attest to the fact that you made this great contribution to the storyline because I have in my very proud possessions a napkin from the Pump Room of the Ambassador Hotel and I remember quite distinctly about a year-and-a-half ago you were visiting Chicago and you and I and a group of us, including your brother George and Seymour Heller, sat there and had dinner one night, and you and I sat at one end of the table and you plotted the entire storyline on a napkin and I said, "If you don't mind, I'd like to pick this up and carry it with me" and I still have it.

LIBERACE: Well, thank you, Howard, I-- 

MILLER: (INTERRUPTS) Now, Lee, I saw the picture the other day. I got just an early glimpse of it because we were going to use a film clip on our television show that we do here on CBS and I think it's a magnificent story. It's just a beautiful story. It contains all the warmth, the pathos, that anyone would want to see in any sort of a dramatic piece and I feel that the cast has done a great job in supporting you in this picture. Do you feel that way?

LIBERACE: Oh, I certainly do. I was surrounded by expert people, which gave me the feeling that I just had to come across for their sake.

MILLER: Yes. Who directed the picture, Lee? 

LIBERACE: A really wonderful guy named Gordon Douglas. 

MILLER: I suppose they're all very proud out there on the Warner Brothers lot to get the picture shot in such a fast order. It certainly was a minimum of shooting time, wasn't it?

LIBERACE: Well, there were absolutely no delays at all. No one had a sick day and the thing just moved along so rapidly. In fact, I finished it ahead of schedule which afforded me an opportunity for a couple of weeks vacation in France. 

MILLER: Well, I'm certain that Jack Warner and all the Warner Brother executives must have been very pleased because, of course, that meant a great saving of money to them. Now, Lee, you play a lot of music in the picture, don't you? 

LIBERACE: Yes, the picture is aimed at two different audiences. It's aimed at the American audience, which recognizes the fact that I play the piano and I'm an entertainer. 

MILLER: Yeah. 

LIBERACE: And then it is also aimed at a audience that eventually will be seeing me for the first time, like the European audience where they haven't become aware of my presence on television, and that sort of thing.

MILLER: Well, Lee, I want to take just a moment to commend it to the viewing enjoyment of people all over the nation. Now, here in the Middle West and, I presume, other places around the country-- We're also going to get the world premiere in other places this weekend. I want you to see it because you're going to just be amazed at the tremendous ability of this man Liberace now as a motion picture performer and truly taking a stature in this life as he has in the life of television and music. Lee, I wanna interrupt just long enough to play at least a portion of one of the fine Columbia records that you've made called "The Beer Barrel Polka" because I think it shows your tremendous versatility.

LIBERACE: Oh, thanks. It's one of the numbers in the picture.

MILLER: I know.


MILLER: The versatile and certainly very wonderful Liberace with "The Beer Barrel Polka." Lee, I know that you've got such a busy weekend here. The ladies -- of which they are, in number, something like five thousand -- are conducting a candlelight parade for you tonight from the Ambassador Hotel all over the city. This should be a real exciting thing. 

LIBERACE: Well, it'll be the first time I've ever had an experience of this sort. I think it's going to be thrilling and I can't wait for it to happen. 

MILLER: Well, if you think you're thrilled and nervous, imagine how the ladies feel. 

LIBERACE: (AMUSED) Well, that's great.

MILLER: (CHUCKLES) I want to take the opportunity, then, of thanking you for taking time from this tremendously busy schedule and being on our CBS Wrigley Spearmint Chewing Gum show. Thank you very much and we'll be seeing you on our television show tomorrow night, and the best of luck in your appearances at the Chicago Theatre all day tomorrow in connection with your picture. 

LIBERACE: Thanks a million, Howard, and God bless you and your listeners. 

MILLER: Thank you. Well, ladies and gentlemen, if Liberace didn't get through to you the same feeling of greatness that he always does to me, then it's because your speaker was turned way down and you couldn't listen, because here is one of the warm, magnificent people of show business whose contribution to all the ages is so great. And again I want to say thanks to a great performer and a great star -- Liberace. 

This is Howard Miller from Chicago on CBS, saying thank you very much. Please join me over the rest of this week and weekend in having Wrigley Spearmint Chewing Gum. I know that you'll like it. It's wholesome, delicious, and refreshing. We'll see you tomorrow, same time. Bye-bye, everyone. 


ANNOUNCER: You've just heard "The Howard Miller Show," with music on records, brought to you from Chicago by Wrigley's Spearmint Gum. Be sure and join Howard Miller tomorrow at this same time when his guests will be Mercury record company vice president Art Talmadge and his staff. 

This is the CBS Radio network.