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Liberace’s 15 Most Extravagant Possessions

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While Liberace’s talents on the ivory keys made him famous, it was his showmanship that made him one of the world's highest-paid entertainers throughout the fifties, sixties and seventies. Here's a look at some of the extravagance that helped make a legend.

1. Singing In Style

You can’t expect someone as extravagant as Liberace to use a regular old microphone can you? He preferred glittering mics like this one.

[Image courtesy of Bobaloo Rox's Flickr stream.]

2. Music That Shined

One of Liberace’s many mirrored pianos, this 1945 nickelodeon piano was adorned with peacock feather designs and rhinestone trim.

[Image courtesy of Ethan Prater's Flickr stream.]

3. A Sparkling Image of Success

This Baldwin grand piano was one of Liberace’s favorites. It was adorned with rhinestones, but, as you can see, it is the mirror plate on the front that really makes it pop.

[Image courtesy of purpletwinkie's Flickr stream.]

4. Keeping It Old School

Liberace didn’t limit his extravagances to modern, custom-made items. This 1885 Pleyel art case grand piano is a perfect example of his vintage properties.

[Image courtesy of rbglasson's Flickr stream.]

5. A Rhinestone Roadster

Liberace loved anything that sparkled, particularly rhinestones. After creating a rhinestone piano and a sparkling sequin suit, the next logical step was obviously creating a roadster to match.

[Images courtesy of rbglasson's Flickr stream and bryanh's Flickr stream.]

6. Mirroring The Road

Liberace loved mirrors just as much as he loved rhinestones, so it was only fitting that he have a mirror-covered Rolls Royce Phantom, adorned with galloping horses, to match his mirrored piano. By the way, check out the awesomely appropriate vanity plate.

[Images courtesy of rbglasson's Flickr stream and CaDeltaFoto's Flickr stream.]

7. The VW/Rolls Royce Crossover

Another mirror-adorned car, this was a VW that was converted into a Rolls Royce by George Barris. Of course, the custom license plate is perfect yet again, reading, "VWRR JR."

[Image courtesy of bryanh's Flickr stream.]

8. All That Glitters

This 1972 custom gold-glittered Bradley fit right in with Liberace’s other outrageous autos. And, of course, it looked great with his matching golden suit.

[Image courtesy of rbglasson's Flickr stream.]

9. Like A Rhinestone Cowboy

There are two Liberace outfits that have become more famous than any others. This star-spangled shorts set, known as “The Drum Major,” is one of them. While you can’t tell from this photo, the arms of the blouse are adorned with fringe, ensuring it didn’t lose any glamor once he dropped the cape.

[Image courtesy of Rodny Dioxin's Flickr stream.]

10. The Drum Major’s Shoes

Not always wanting to wear the boots pictured with his sequined Americana ensemble above, these were another classy option.

[Image courtesy of ~BC~'s Flickr stream.]

11. King Neptune

This is his second-most famous outfit, known as his King Neptune costume. This ensemble weighed an amazing 200 pounds (just imagine how much the heavier fur-covered costumes must have weighed). If you’re wondering how one suit and cape combo could be so heavy, just check out the detail shot showing all the pearls, sequins and other adornments on the fabric.

[Images courtesy of Snarkygurl's Flickr Stream.]

12. A Truly Classy Throne Room

This velveteen toilet served as the guest bathroom for the Valentino Room in Liberace’s Palm Springs Home. Because nothing says class like a throne toilet.

[Image courtesy of Bob's World of Liberace.]

13. Bathing In Style

With its own private chandelier and marble columns, it’s hard to imagine a more opulent bath tub than this one from Liberace’s Las Vegas abode. I have to admit, of all his stuff, this is the one thing I would desperately love to own myself.

[Image courtesy of Bob's World of Liberace.]

14. The Fur The End All Furs

If you thought Princess Diana’s wedding gown had an outrageous train, then you'll appreciate this white llama fur coat with a 16’ train interspersed with rhinestones and sequins.

[Image courtesy of Bob's World of Liberace.]

15. The World’s Largest Rhinestone

After giving so much business to an Austrian rhinestone company, it was only natural for them to give Liberace a little thank you gift—in this case, the world’s largest rhinestone. They broke the mold after presenting it to him.

[Image courtesy of Bob's World of Liberace.]

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Pop Culture
5 Bizarre Comic-Con News Stories from Years Past
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At its best, Comic-Con is a friendly place where like-minded people can celebrate their pop culture obsessions, and each other. And no one can make fun of you, no matter how lazy your cosplaying might be. You might think that at its worst, it’s just a series of long lines of costumed fans and small stores crammed into a convention center. But sometimes, throwing together 100,000-plus people from around the world in what feels like a carnival-type atmosphere where anything goes can have less than stellar results. Here are some highlights from past Comic-Con-tastrophes.

1. MAN IN HARRY POTTER T-SHIRT STABS ANOTHER MAN IN THE FACE—WITH A PEN

In 2010, two men waiting for a Comic-Con screening of the Seth Rogen alien comedy Paul got into a very adult argument about whether one of them was sitting too close to the other. Unable to come to a satisfactory conclusion with words, one man stabbed the other in the face with a pen. According to CNN, the attacker was led away wearing handcuffs and a Harry Potter T-shirt. In the aftermath, some Comic-Con attendees dealt with the attack in an oddly fitting way: They cosplayed as the victim, with pens protruding from bloody eye sockets.

2. MEMORABILIA THIEVES INVADE NEW YORK

Since its founding in 2006, New York Comic Con has attracted a few sticky-fingered attendees. In 2010, a man stole several rare comics from vendor Matt Nelson, co-founder of Texas’ Worldwide Comics. Just one of those, Whiz Comics No. 1, was worth $11,000, according to the New York Post. A few years later, in 2014, someone stole a $2000 “Dunny” action figure, which artist Jon-Paul Kaiser had painted during the event for Clutter magazine. And those are just the incidents that involved police; lower-scale cases of toys and comics disappearing from booths are an increasingly frustrating epidemic, according to some. “Comic Con theft is an issue we all sort of ignore,” collector Tracy Isenhour wrote on the blog of his company, Needless Essentials, in 2015. “I am here to tell you no more. It’s time for this garbage to stop."

3. CATWOMAN SAVES THE DAY

John Sciulli/Getty Images for Xbox

Adrianne Curry, winner of the first cycle of America’s Next Top Model, has made a career of chasing viral fame. Ironically, it was at Comic-Con in 2014 that Curry did something truly worthy of attention—though there wasn’t a camera in sight. Dressed as Catwoman, she was posing with fans alongside her friend Alicia Marie, who was dressed as Tigra. According to a Facebook post Marie wrote at the time, a fan tried to shove his hands into her bikini bottoms. She screamed, the man ran off, and Curry jumped to action. She “literally took off after dude WITH her Catwoman whip and chased him down, beat his a**,” Marie wrote. “Punched him across the face with the butt of her whip—he had zombie blood on his face—got on her costume.”

4. MAN POSES AS FUGITIVE-SEEKING INVESTIGATOR TO GET INTO VIP ROOM

The lines at Comic-Con are legendary, so one Utah man came up with a novel way to try and skip them altogether. In 2015, Jonathon M. Wall tried to get into Salt Lake Comic Con’s exclusive VIP enclave (normally a $10,000 ticket) by claiming he was an agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and needed to get into the VIP room “to catch a fugitive,” according to The San Diego Union Tribune. Not only does that story not even come close to making sense, it also adds up to impersonating a federal agent, a crime to which Wall pleaded guilty in April of this year and which carried a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In June, prosecutors announced that they were planning to reduce his crime from a felony to a misdemeanor.

5. MAN WALKS 645 MILES TO COMIC-CON, DRESSED AS A STORMTROOPER, TO HONOR HIS LATE WIFE

Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Disney

In 2015, Kevin Doyle walked 645 miles along the California coast to honor his late wife, Eileen. Doyle had met Eileen relatively late in life, when he was in his 50s, and they bonded over their shared love of Star Wars (he even proposed to her while dressed as Darth Vader). However, she died of cancer barely a year after they were married. Adrift and lonely, Doyle decided to honor her memory and their love of Star Wars by walking to Comic-Con—from San Francisco. “I feel like I’m so much better in the healing process than if I’d stayed home,” he told The San Diego Union Tribune.

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between an Opera and a Musical?
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They both have narrative arcs set to song, so how are musicals different from operas?

For non-theater types, the word “musical” conjures up images of stylized Broadway performances—replete with high-kicks and punchy songs interspersed with dialogue—while operas are viewed as a musical's more melodramatic, highbrow cousin. That said, The New York Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini argues that these loose categorizations don't get to the heart of the matter. For example, for every Kinky Boots, there’s a work like Les Misérables—a somber, sung-through show that elicits more audience tears than laughs. Meanwhile, operas can contain dancing and/or conversation, too, and they range in quality from lowbrow to highbrow to straight-up middlebrow.

According to Tommasini, the real distinguishing detail between a musical and an opera is that “in opera, music is the driving force; in musical theater, words come first.” While listening to an opera, it typically doesn’t matter what language it’s sung in, so long as you know the basic plot—but in musical theater, the nuance comes from the lyrics.

When it comes down to it, Tommasini’s explanation clarifies why opera stars often sing in a different style than Broadway performers do, why operas and musicals tend to have their trademark subject matters, and why musical composition and orchestration differ between the two disciplines.

That said, we live in a hybrid-crazy world in which we can order Chinese-Indian food, purchase combination jeans/leggings, and, yes, watch a Broadway musical—like 2010's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark—that’s billed as “rock opera.” At the end of the day, the lack of hard, fast lines between opera and musical theater can lead composers from both camps to borrow from the other, thus blurring the line even further.

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