Liberace died the year before I was born. His excess died along with him. Media coverage of celebrities since then has evolved into an all-encompassing phenomenon delving into every aspect of their lives. Liberace managed to nigh-on keep his homosexuality out of the press for the duration of his life, (winning a law suit against the daily mail in 1956). That seems unthinkable nowadays. There is something mysterious and captivating about stars from Liberace’s era that we have lost, perhaps Michael Douglas, as a member of a well-established acting dynasty, understands this.
Something rings true about Douglas’ performance, akin to Micky Rourke’s breakthrough in the ‘Wrestler’; a twinge of reality that is difficult to ignore. In this era we are all too aware of celebrities private lives which has allowed me to draw some parallels. Douglas’ marriage to much younger Catherine Zeta-Jones and his real-life health problems.
Young-old celebrity relationships is a customary theme explored by the media, a by-product of a culture obsessed with youth and beauty. But maybe the relationships themselves are a product of the same obsession. Why can’t Jonny Depp or Ronnie Wood or Micheal Douglas or Sam Taylor Wood be happy with a partner of their own age? Is it a coincidence that so many older celebrities fall in love with much younger, good-looking people?
Douglas’s Liberace had a degree of awareness of how his relationships were perceived by those around him, but yet fatally could not help but indulge himself. ‘A lot of something good is wonderful’ was one of his powerful lines which revealed this character flaw. Personally I prefer ‘everything in moderation’.
Final Note: farewell to Steven Soderbergh from feature film-making. One of the more intelligent directors in Hollywood