The iconic Wladziu Valentino Liberace was best known only by his last name. An entertainer and pianist, Liberace was also known for his flashy outfits and jewelry, flamboyant stage presence and giant candelabra.
For more than 40 years, Liberace reigned supreme as one of America's most beloved performers. He recorded more than 200 albums, starred in an Emmy award-winning television series, wrote three best-selling books, turned his home into a museum, and founded the Liberace Foundation to help talented youth pursue careers in performing and creative arts. One of the highest-paid entertainers of his time, Liberace's income averaged $5 million a year for more than 25 years.
Liberace appeared on the first season of The Oprah Show in 1986, playing a Christmas medley that Oprah called "the most beautiful I've ever heard." It was the legendary entertainer's last televised appearance before he died.
Six weeks later, on February 4, 1987, he died of cardiac arrest due to congestive heart failure brought on by subacute encephalopathy, a degenerative disease of the brain.