Liberace shoot evokes memories of old Palm Springs

Palm Desert-based producer Jerry Weintraub isn’t allowing me on the local sets of his highly-anticipated Liberace movie, “Behind the Candelabra,” this week.
But just the media trucks parked all around the shooting locations yesterday and today have reminded me of the vigil held for Liberace as he was dying at his opulent home on the corner of Alejo and Belardo roads in 1987.
That was one of the sickest things I’ve ever seen. The media — including The Desert Sun — stood outside of Liberace’s house 24/7 waiting for any announcements about his condition.
Would he admit he had AIDS? How much longer did he have to live?
This film, based on the grand pianist’s final years, ought to be a great HBO presentation.
Michael Douglas, who spent part of his childhood at his father, Kirk Douglas’ Palm Springs home near the shooting locations, portrays the flamboyant pianist, who actually owned four homes in the Las Palmas area.
Matt Damon plays Liberace’s lover, Scott Thorson. We hear Damon has waxed his chest for the role and Douglas is getting some amazing hair and wardrobe.
In an unusual bit of casting, Dan Aykroyd is playing Liberace’s manager, Seymour Heller, who lived on Frank Sinatra Drive in Rancho Mirage. I only interviewed Heller once over the telephone, but I can’t picture the former “Saturday Night Live” star playing the man who was one of the smartest handlers in show biz history.
I never did interview Liberace, but I met him walking on Palm Canyon Drive before I moved to Palm Springs. I’ll never forget he had on Lee’s jeans when everyone else was wearing Levis and he had a huge belt buckle.
I’ve heard Weintraub’s crew is not shooting the interiors of any of Liberace’s houses. They were scheduled to shoot the interiors at Lori Sarner’s Panorama Drive home in Little Tuscany.
Sarner, who is president of the Pegasus Riding Academy for the Handicapped, bought the house from the late George Randolph Hearst, who decorated it so audaciously it was known as Little Hearst’s Castle.
From what I’ve heard, the exteriors are being shot at the Our Lady of Solitude Church across from Liberace’s West Alejo home and throughout his Vista Las Palmas/Old Las Palmas neighborhoods. Another shoot was scheduled to take place today outside of City Hall.
Liberace was known for his fabulous Halloween parties at his West Alejo house and also for giving out the best bags of candies to trick or treaters in all of Las Palmas.
But Liberace’s wasn’t all glitz and glamour at his Palm Springs home. He also sold a dune buggy to his friend, Elvis Presley.
That is a sight I would have loved to have seen. I can just imagine Elvis and Liberace jumping sand dunes out around Whitewater with their well coifed hair flying in the wind.