Liberace: An American Boy

University of Chicago Press
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More people watched his nationally syndicated television show between 1953 and 1955 than followed I Love Lucy. Even a decade after his death, the attendance records he set at Madison Square Garden, the Hollywood Bowl, and Radio City Music Hall still stand. Arguably the most popular entertainer of the twentieth century, this very public figure nonetheless kept more than a few secrets. Darden Asbury Pyron, author of the acclaimed and bestselling Southern Daughter: The Life of Margaret Mitchell, leads us through the life of America's foremost showman with his fresh, provocative, and definitive portrait of Liberace, an American boy.

Liberace's career follows the trajectory of the classic American dream. Born in the Midwest to Polish-Italian immigrant parents, he was a child prodigy who, by the age of twenty, had performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Abandoning the concert stage for the lucrative and glittery world of nightclubs, celebrities, and television, Liberace became America's most popular entertainer. While wildly successful and good natured outwardly, Liberace, Pyron reveals, was a complicated man whose political, social, and religious conservativism existed side-by-side with a lifetime of secretive homosexuality. Even so, his swishy persona belied an inner life of ferocious aggression and ambition. Pyron relates this private man to his public persona and places this remarkable life in the rapidly changing cultural landscape of twentieth-century America.

Pyron presents Liberace's life as a metaphor, for both good and ill, of American culture, with its shopping malls and insatiable hunger for celebrity. In this fascinating biography, Pyron complicates and celebrates our image of the man for whom the streets were paved with gold lamé.

"An entertaining and rewarding biography of the pianist and entertainer whose fans' adoration was equaled only by his critics' loathing. . . . [Pyron] persuasively argues that Liberace, thoroughly and rigorously trained, was a genuine musician as well as a brilliant showman. . . . [A]n immensely entertaining story that should be fascinating and pleasurable to anyone with an interest in American popular culture."—Kirkus Reviews

"This is a wonderful book, what biography ought to be and so seldom is."—Kathryn Hughes, Daily Telegraph

"[A]bsorbing and insightful. . . . Pyron's interests are far-ranging and illuminating-from the influence of a Roman Catholic sensibility on Liberace and gay culture to the aesthetics of television and the social importance of self-improvement books in the 1950s. Finally, he achieves what many readers might consider impossible: a persuasive case for Liberace's life and times as the embodiment of an important cultural moment."—Publishers Weekly

"Liberace, coming on top of his amazing life of Margaret Mitchell, Southern Daughter, puts Darden Pyron in the very first rank of American biographers. His books are as exciting as the lives of his subjects."—Tom Wolfe

"Fascinating, thoughtful, exhaustive, and well-written, this book will serve as the standard biography of a complex icon of American popular culture."—Library Journal
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About the author

Darden Asbury Pyron teaches history at Florida International University in Miami. He is the author of the national bestseller Southern Daughter: The Life of Margaret Mitchell and editor of Recasting: Gone with the Wind in American Culture.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Apr 26, 2013
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Pages
512
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ISBN
9780226117126
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Entertainment & Performing Arts
Music / General
Social Science / General
Social Science / LGBT Studies / Gay Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Silvio Scionti was a zestful, colorful figure, as well as a master pianist and teacher. Stories about him, particularly about his more than ten-year career at the University of NorthTexas, are legion, and author Jack Guerry—a former Scionti student—has collected many of them in this remembrance and biography.

Scionti firmly established his reputation as a compelling pianist, whose playing has been described as powerful, vital, and full of eloquence, during his twenty-six years at the American Conservatory in Chicago. Known especially throughout the United States and Europe for his duo-piano playing, Scionti’s career flourished when he married Texan Isabel Laughlin, and the “irreproachable and irrepressible Sciontis” impressed critics wherever they played.

Lured to North Texas in 1942, the Sciontis were instrumental in the growth of the School of Music to the stature it still claims today. Scionti’s “buoyant spirit,” enthusiasm, talent, and reputation brought students to Denton from around the country. Many members of Scionti’s “student family”—themselves now professionals and teachers—have contributed their recollections to this volume including tales of Scionti’s proverbial Italian spaghetti dinners, exhausting hikes up Mount Etna, and high-speed sight-seeing along Italian mountain lanes with Scionti at the wheel of his “magnificent red Buick.”

The “indefatigable” Scionti never stopped: When he was seventy and near the end of his North Texas career, he organized a ten-day tour of five states for his eight-piano emsemble—taking the eight pianos along and assembling them at each of the thirteen cities visited. Even through his “retirement” years, Scionti still was busy teaching and opening professional doors for students who continued to seek him out.
He's known the world over for his heyday with Dawn, but that glittering 1970's whirl was just one chapter in Tony Orlando's rich life. Orlando began his showbiz career as a teen heartthrob with the single "Halfway to Paradise" and had a second successful act as a record company A&R man before he was lured back into the limelight as a performer. Fans from the l960s to the present day have loved his voice, his stage presence and his hits, like "Knock Three Times" and "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree."

Now, Tony has written an autobiography as warm and heartfelt as his songs. Halfway to Paradise is rich with stories from the music world-from doo wop to the disco era, from early recording with Gerry Goffin and Carole King to recent concerts in Branson, Missouri and across the United States. It's also full of behind-the-scenes detail of how it felt to be at the top of the entertainment heap-with his #1-rated CBS show, Tony's life in front of and behind the camera was grand, but sometimes not all it seemed. Orlando succumbed to one of the familiar antidotes to the pressures of a big life: drug use, with its predictable toll on family and friendships. And even as his career was soaring, he was unable to save his best friend Freddie Prinze from a fatal downward spiral.

With a return to roots-and to the close-knit family that has always sustained him-Tony restored the order and creativity that have allowed him to thrive through four decades of exuberant entertaining. Halfway to Paradise is a wise, funny and spirited life story, and a must-read memoir for fans.

THE #1 MOST COMPREHENSIVE AND HONEST BOOK FOR ANYONE WHO'S EVER WANTED TO SING ON MAJOR TV COMMERCIALS!

You have a great voice, but record deals are getting harder and harder to come by. Paid gigs don't pay enough and solo albums aren't selling even with promotion. There is an answer for you!

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walks you through the lucrative world of commercial jingles. What once was stereotyped as a career for campy, cliche vocalists and songwriters has now become a pathway to generating a hit song and promoting bands and brands at the same time. JINGLES today are sounding more and more like SINGLES. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been made by singers on commercials over the years and the competition is growing tougher and tougher all the time.

Whether you are a new comer or veteran in the game,VOLUME 4 of THE 30-30 shows you how to break deeper into this money-making industry right now and have your voice heard locally, nationally and internationally. We break down the SKILL, the NETWORK, and the PSYCHOLOGY of singing on commercials. With the record industry changing day to day, every singer and songwriter should be making extra money in the advertising industry. It's true. You're either NETworking or NOTworking! Ever wonder why the politics are never on your side? This book unveils the politics and secrets to working your way onto vocal contracts that get you paid. Start networking today and make "NEW" money by SINGING ON MAJOR TV COMMERCIALS.

The first ever biography focused on the formative and highly influential early years of “rock’s first supergroup” (Rolling Stone) Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young—when they were the most successful, influential, and politically potent band in America—in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock and the formation of the band itself.

1969 to 1974 were true golden years of rock n’ roll, bookmarking an era of arguably unparalleled musical power and innovation. But even more than any of their eminent peers, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young channeled and broadcast all the radical anger, romantic idealism, and generational angst of their time. Each of the members had already made their marks in huge bands (The Hollies, Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds), but together, their harmonies were transcendent.

The vast emotional range of their music, from delicate acoustic confessionals to raucous counter-culture anthems, was mirrored in the turbulence of their personal lives. Their trademark may have been vocal harmony, but few—if any—of their contemporaries could match the recklessness of their hedonistic and often combative lifestyles, when the four tenacious, volatile, and prodigal songwriters pursued chemical and sexual pleasure to life-threatening extremes.

Including full color photographs, CSNY chronicles these four iconic musicians and the movement they came to represent, concentrating on their prime as a collective unit and a cultural force: the years between 1969, when Woodstock telegraphed their arrival to the world, and 1974, when their arch-enemy Richard Nixon was driven from office, and the band (to quote Graham Nash himself) “lost it on the highway.”

Even fifty years later, there are plenty of stories left to be told about Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young—and music historian Peter Doggett is here to bring them to light in the meticulously researched CSNY, a quintessential and illuminative account of rock’s first supergroup in their golden hour for die-hard fans, nostalgic flower-children, and music history aficionados alike.
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