ML - Vegas Magazine

2012 - Issue 7 - November

Vegas Magazine - Niche Media - There is a place beyond the crowds, beyond the ropes, where dreams are realized and success is celebrated. You are invited.

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Page 11 of 127

PHOTOGRAPHY BY HULTON ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES F ront Runners trading places A YOUNG ELVIS PRESLEY GOOFS OFF WITH AN ALREADY LEGENDARY LIBERACE DURING AN UNFORGETTABLE NIGHT IN 1956. BY KRISTINA JOHNSON B 10 VEGASMAGAZINE.COM efore he was an icon, hip-shaker Elvis Presley, a young pup at the ripe age of 21, sat in the front row inside the Riviera on November 14, 1956, to watch famous pianist Wladziu Valentino Liberace perform on the show- room stage. After completing an only moderately successful two-week show at the New Frontier Hotel earlier that spring, Presley was curious to see mega-headliner Liberace, then 37 and, with a reported $50,000 weekly payout, the highest-paid performer in Las Vegas at that time. After showing Presley how it's done, Liberace invited the much-younger performer—on the eve of his film debut in Love Me Tender—backstage for a meet and greet. As photographers swarmed, Liberace suggested the two switch personas: Liberace traded his purple, glitter- covered jacket for Presley's striped sports coat, and then the two swapped instruments. (While the King of Rock 'n' Roll could play a mean piano, Liberace could only jokingly strum a few chords on the guitar.) Presley even picked up a gleaming candelabra, aping Liberace and his signature prop for the cameras. Later, after Presley became a legendary triple threat, his opulent, glittering outfits ironically rivaled only Liberace's flashy costumes. This year marks the 35th anniversary of Presley's premature death; Liberace survived him by a decade, dying in 1987 at age 67. The Liberace Foundation, which is based in Las Vegas, keeps his memory alive, and he'll be back in the spot- light next year, when HBO airs its much-anticipated biopic Behind the Candelabra, starring Michael Douglas. V

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