Palm Springs City Hall, Church Scenes For Liberace Movie

Sites Sent Back In Time For 1970s Biopic



Our Lady Of Solitude Church in Palm Springs served as the backdrop for one of the scenes in Behind The Candelabra, a movie based on Liberace's life.

Erik Sandoval

On a day that saw temperatures soar to more than 101 degrees, movie crews in Palm Springs cut through thick humidity to unload scaffolding, lights and sound equipment from a farm of trailers -- setting up the framework for a day of filming of the new Liberace biopic Behind The Candelabra.

Based on the story told by his secret live-in lover Scott Thorson, the movie focuses on their often tempestuous relationship as Liberace fought to keep it and his homosexuality a secret.

Matt Damon plays Thorson -- a man who sued Liberace for more than a million dollars in palimony after their break-up, walking away with only a small settlement.

Michael Douglas plays "Mr. Showmanship" Liberace, who lived out the final days of his life in 1987 at his home in the Las Palmas neighborhood of Palm Springs.

Producing the project -- part-time Palm Desert resident Jerry Weintraub.

“I’ve wanted to make a film about Liberace for a very long time," he said. "After the amazing experience I had with HBO on ‘His Way,’ I knew that they were absolutely the right place for this movie."

Stephen Soderbergh directs the film.

Crews spent two days capturing scenes in the desert.  Monday, they shot scenes inside private homes.

Tuesday's filming demanded much more attention.

Police barricaded parking lots and streets, which had been taken over by big-rigs full of film-making equipment.

The morning hours saw Palm Springs City Hall transformed into the city hall of the 1970s -- complete with cars to match in the parking lot and boxy video cameras set up for a scripted news conference.

Across town, local residents, who auditioned in July, got their chance to perform in the movie. "Extras" filled up vans, called "Showmanship Vans," to take the ride to Our Lady Of Solitude Church on West Alejo Street -- a church Liberace attended frequently across the street from his home.

So many years later, Hollywood found itself converging on a corner of Palm Springs that Liberace built.

He crafted his home out of a former motel in 1967 at the corner of Belardo and Alejo Roads.  He called it "The Cloisters" and spent $130,000 renovating it for royalty.

Its five bedrooms had already been converted to guest suites when Liberace arrived, but the flamboyant pianist turned them into theme rooms.

The Valentino Room featured a sleigh bed, and there was a Persian tent room off to the side of the pool.

There was also a master bedroom so large that one tour guide claimed you could fit a small house inside it.

Beyond that, the house had crystal chandeliers, antiques and a small chapel.

Today, a fence surrounds the home, which was purchased in 2011 by a couple in Pasadena.  The husband and wife said they were renovating it for their retirement.

An HBO representative told PalmSpringsLife.com Behind the Candelabra will air sometime during the Spring of 2013.

Comments to this website are moderated by staff. While all comments are welcome, we encourage all to be polite and please do not use this system for advertising or business promotions. Any complaint towards a business or service should be directed directly to that business and not posted here. If anyone has a complaint that a comment is defamatory, please contact me at tmay@palmspringslife.com and I will take appropriate action promptly. Thank You

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Palm Springs Life
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Michael Childers Will Tell the Stories Behind his Hollywood Star Photos

Michael Childers built a career photographing portraits of Hollywood stars, but it was the stories behind the photos that audiences will have privy to when the Rancho Mirage resident speaks Jan. 25 at the Annenberg Theater.

Sage Francis Looks for 'Memorable' Show At The Date Shed

Now a 40-something white guy from the rural area of Rhode Island, Sage Francis still channels his lyrical writing roots into his music, and plans to share it with Date Shed fans on Jan. 24.

Dave Wakeling, The English Beat Ready to Conquer The Hood Bar

As a famous British Two Tone SKA musician in The English Beat and later as half of the popular duo General Public, David Wakeling has had his share of the limelight.

David Brighton Brings Electrifying Glam Rock Act for Modernism Week Party

The world’s best David Bowie tribute artist, David Brighton, will bring back 1970s glam rock during 2015’s Modernism Week on Feb. 14 to benefit the Palm Springs Modern Committee.

Saxony Group Fashion Week El Paseo Marks 10th Anniversary

Fashion Week El Paseo™ 2015, set for March 21-28, marks its 10th anniversary with Saxony Group as the title sponsor and a host of runway shows and events.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

Fashionista Friends

Fashionista Friends

Experience the glitz and glamour of Fashion Week El Paseo 2015.
2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Food + Wine Festival Grand Experience

Food + Wine Festival Grand Experience

Enter for a Chance to Win a Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert 2015 Grand Experience
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.