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In 1982, Scott Thorson, Liberace's 22-year-old former chauffeur and alleged live-in lover of five years, sued the pianist for $113 million in palimony after he was let go by Liberace. Liberace continued publicly to deny that he was homosexual and insisted that Thorson was never his lover. The case was settled out of court in 1986, with Thorson receiving a $95,000 settlement. Thorson stated after Liberace's death that he settled because he knew that Liberace was in profoundly ill health, and that he had intended to sue based on conversion of property rather than palimony.
Thorson met Liberace in 1976, when he was 17, through his friendship with Hollywood film producer Ray Arnett. When Thorson was 17, Liberace hired him to act as his personal friend and companion, a position that allegedly included a five-year romantic relationship with lavish gifts, travel, and Liberace's promises that he would adopt and care for Thorson. Liberace also incorporated Thorson into his Las Vegas stage performances (e.g., Thorson drove Liberace's Rolls-Royce onstage, and was a dancer). According to Thorson, their committed relationship ended because of Liberace's sexual promiscuity and Thorson's drug addiction, brought on by Liberace's hiring a plastic surgeon to restructure Thorson's face to resemble a young Liberace, and the doctor's prescribing a cocktail of highly addictive drugs, including cocaine, quaaludes, Biphetamine, and demerol post-surgery. Thorson also later suffered from Hepatitis C.
In 1982, Thorson filed a $113 million lawsuit against Liberace, part of which was a palimony suit. In 1986, Thorson and Liberace agreed to settle out of court for $95,000, two cars, and two pet dogs. He visited and reconciled with Liberace shortly before the entertainer's death in 1987. A year later, Thorson published a book about their relationship, Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace.
The two met in 1974 when Thorson—a troubled 17-year-old who had shuttled between foster homes—attended one of Liberace's Las Vegas shows and was invited backstage by his manager. Lee, he says, asked him to his house for cocktails the next day, and barely two weeks later he was hired on as the entertainer's "personal chauffeur."
At first, their life together was "pretty normal," Thorson says, although "he didn't really like to have his family or mine around much. He was very strange that way—he liked the two of us to be alone." Liberace, who eschewed jewels and gaudy gear around the house, spent time cooking and shopping with his young lover. There were times, Scott says, when the two would "wake up in the middle of the day and go out and buy houses on a whim."
According to Thorson, the problems began in 1981, when Scott refused to be "completely and utterly under his control. Lee was control-oriented," he says. "He once told me the happiest he ever was was when he was onstage because he was in full [command] of the situation."
After seven years as Liberace's companion, Thorson got the boot; in his 1982 lawsuit, he alleged that a gang of thugs Maced him and threw him out of Lee's Beverly Boulevard home in L.A. The attack, Thorson says, was hardly Liberace's style—"He was a pussycat. He doesn't like to handle messy situations, and I think it was arranged by someone else."
Lawsuits or no, Thorson and Liberace apparently were reconciled before the end. "We had a very personal and very touching conversation on the phone," Scott claims. "I told him I was very sorry about everything, and I said, 'I love you.' "
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Scott Thorson was dating Liberace. They started dating in 1976 and split up in 1982 after dating for 6 years.
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