Liberace still glitters in West Milwaukee lore

His old high school names auditorium after famed village's famous star

Liberace, as he appeared at a Riverside performance in 1986.

Liberace, as he appeared at a Riverside performance in 1986. Photo By Karen Scherlock

Oct. 30, 2014

West Milwaukee — West Milwaukee Intermediate School, the alma mater of internationally famous entertainer Liberace, will name its auditorium after the glitzy, glamorous pianist dubbed Mr. Showmanship.

The school will hold a celebration of the naming in December.

Liberace graduated from the school when it was a high school. He had already started his career as a pianist that eventually took him around the world and onto television. His became a household name.

"He was spectacular," said Principal Jeff Taylor who spearheaded the effort to honor the entertainer and the school he attended.

Lasting fame

Those who graduated from West Milwaukee are extremely proud of its best-known graduate, Taylor said. When grads come back for class reunions, he said, "That's all I ever hear about — that Liberace went here."

So naming the auditorium after Liberace has community aspects, Taylor said.

The idea drew praise from beyond West Milwaukee, too.

"We're thrilled," said Jonathan Warren, president of the Liberace Foundation for the Creative and Performing Arts.

Warren said Liberace always sought to nurture up-and-coming artists, so naming a performance venue that primarily serves young people after him is entirely in keeping with what was close to his heart.

Staging celebration

The naming of the auditorium will reflect some of the glitz and glamor that defined Liberace's career.

An art teacher is working on a mural and a sign will soon be installed at the auditorium, Taylor said.

The December naming celebration will also include a visit from the star of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater's production "Liberace!," which opened last week, Taylor said.

A friend who is with a large music publishing company that owns the musical rights to such blockbusters as "Frozen" and "Wicked" also plans to come. He will speak about how much Liberace meant to classical music and to the sales of records of all kinds of music, Taylor said.

"I want it to be fun," the school's principal said of the celebration.

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