FOX 11 Archives: Liberace: His Big Break Happened Here - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

FOX 11 Archives: Liberace: His Big Break Happened Here

Posted: Updated:

The first week in February marks two milestones in the life of Liberace, perhaps the original "glam" entertainer.  On February 3, 1952 the pianist with the candelabra and chicklets smile began a weekly live television show on what today is Fox 11's sister station in Los Angeles, Channel 13.  The station's then- general manager, Don Fedderson, had seen Liberace's nightclub show in San Diego and thought the intimate cabaret act would be perfect for the small screen.  At first, Fedderson was the only one who thought so.  He couldn't find a sponsor for the show.

At the time the station was leasing The Music Hall Theater on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.  Six nights a week, live audience shows originated from that spot, including Betty White's comedy sketch show, Life With Elizabeth.  On the first Wednesday in February, at 7:30 in the evening, The Liberace  Show premiered. By the second week, the program was a solid hit, and Fedderson had a sponsor.  Within a few months the program was drawing a weekly audience of 1 ½ million viewers – setting a record as the highest rated local tv show in L.A.

Within a year, Liberace had won two Emmys; one for outstanding local television show and another for outstanding  male personality.  Tickets to the program were free -- and the 800 seat house was filled weeks in advance.  Reportedly, scalpers were getting $50 a ticket.

It's hard to describe the hold Liberace had on his audience. He had brilliant technical skills, but beyond the virtuosity, he was a mesmerizing entertainer.  Although the program was only a half hour long, he'd stay for an hour or so and take requests.  His fans couldn't get enough of him.  He was a master showman long before he donned the sequined suits.  The program was such a success that after a year, it became a nationally syndicated show, and the rest of the country got to know Liberace.

As for Don Fedderson, the man who put Liberace on the television map, he later formed his own production company, producing such hit TV shows as The Millionaire, My Three Sons and Family Affair.

Finally, that other February milestone in Liberace's life – his death -- on February 4, 1987, of AIDS complications.

I've included a brief clip of the original live Liberace Show, along with some publicity material, a "Letters to the Editor" page from a 1952 TV-Radio Life magazine and a rehearsal call sheet showing  a little of what a typical work day looked like in the early days of LA television.

  • Share ThisMore>>

  • Venice Lightning Strike Survivor Meets His Rescuers

    Venice Lightning Strike Survivor Meets His Rescuers

    Friday, August 29 2014 12:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 16:48:58 GMT
    A month and a day has passed since the fatal lightning strike suddenly hit the shore off Venice Beach, hospitalizing about a dozen people. One of the most critically injured patients was reunited with his rescuers by the Venice Pier Thursday.
    A month and a day has passed since the fatal lightning strike suddenly hit the shore off Venice Beach, hospitalizing about a dozen people. One of the most critically injured patients was reunited with his rescuers by the Venice Pier Thursday.
  • National Dog Day: Send Us Your Pup Pics

    National Dog Day: Send Us Your Pup Pics

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 7:17 PM EDT2014-08-26 23:17:59 GMT
    The purpose of the holiday is to show appreciation for the millions of the dogs in the US that keep us safe and bring us comfort and companionship.
    The purpose of the holiday is to show appreciation for the millions of the dogs in the US that keep us safe and bring us comfort and companionship.
  • myFOX Tech

    Review: Microsoft Surface Pro 3- The Future of Laptops, NOW!

    Review: Microsoft Surface Pro 3- The Future of Laptops, NOW!

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 12:14 PM EDT2014-08-26 16:14:57 GMT
    It's no secret that Microsoft has struggled in the hardware department so I can't say whether the Surface Pro 3 will be the hero Microsoft needs but I can say it is the modern computing experience users deserve. I love it and think you should too! Read on to find out why.
    It's no secret that Microsoft has struggled in the hardware department so I can't say whether the Surface Pro 3 will be the hero Microsoft needs but I can say it is the modern computing experience users deserve. I love it and think you should too! Read on to find out why.
Powered by WorldNow

KTTV FOX 11
1999 S. Bundy Dr.
Los Angeles CA 90025

Main: (310) 584-2000
News Tips? (310) 584-2025

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices