Liberace had a jealous streak when it came to one of his dancers, former Radio City Rockette Jody Ghanem.
Ghanem’s mother, Marilyn Erickson, shared the story in a telephone interview from New York on Saturday.
Liberace’s partner, dancer Scott Thorson, called to say Liberace was planning a surprise party for Jody. “He had a ring,” Erickson said.
But the party was canceled after Liberace became upset when he found out Jody was dating Dr. Elias Ghanem, who was Liberace’s and Elvis Presley’s doctor, among many other stars.
“He had a crush,” confirmed Jody, a longtime Las Vegas resident who is in New York with her mother this weekend. “He’d say, ‘If I wasn’t gay … .’ ”
She will be watching tonight’s premiere of the HBO movie “Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace,” which is based on Thorson’s 1998 book.
Michael Douglas is cast as Liberace and Matt Damon plays Thorson, who was in a five-year relationship with Liberace before the flamboyant Las Vegas headliner died of AIDS in 1987.
Liberace had hired the Rockettes to perform with him at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1979. Then known as Jody Erickson, she had been with the Rockettes for seven years. Liberace was so smitten he called her in the middle of 1980 and hired her as Thorson’s dance partner in a disco number.
Early in his career, Liberace had played many of New York City’s most prestigious venues: Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, and the Waldorf and Plaza hotels.
Liberace didn’t play in New York for 30 years until he was booked at Radio City Music Hall in March 1985. The venue had opened to other performers at the time.
“It was his dream to play there, and I knew he wasn’t feeling well,” she said.
His last show at Radio Music Hall was Nov. 2, 1986. He died Feb. 4, 1987, at age 67. She went back for one of his parties during his Radio City run.
Liberace played at Jody and Elias Ghanem’s engagement, their wedding on March 26, 1983, and a birthday party for Elias Ghanem, who died in Las Vegas in August 2001 at age 62.
She and her son, Elias Ghanem II, named their downtown business, Radio City Pizza, in honor of her Rockette roots and the venue where Liberace got his dying wish.
SHEEN A NO-SHOW
Charlie Sheen bailed out of a big payday at Sapphire pool and dayclub for the second time in a month on Saturday.
A Sheen rep notified the gentlemen’s club about the time he was scheduled to arrive on the red carpet.
Peter Feinstein, managing partner of what is billed as the world’s largest strip club, said he was informed that Sheen “thinks it is not in his best interest to come, for a variety of reasons. They are not acceptable to us.”
A club source said Sheen was to receive the highest fee ever paid by Sapphire, a 70,000-square-foot venue.
Earlier this month, Sheen backed out of a Cinco de Mayo appearance at Sapphire.
One of Sheen’s issues, a source said, was that he wanted to buy Sapphire. There also was speculation Sheen pulled out because of his ongoing custody battle for his children.
Shortly after retired baseball slugger Jose Canseco was interviewed by police last week in Las Vegas about rape allegations, the media got this message when they contacted Canseco’s handler:
“Jose is getting lots of offers right now. He has not talked to anybody right now. He is willing to do a polygraph and an exclusive. Do u have a budget?”
There were media reports that he took a polygraph test in Texas on Monday and said he passed.
“Dancing with the Stars” brothers Maksim and Val Chmerkovskiy, among “DWTS” performers and “So You Think You Can Dance” cast members at Azure pool at The Palazzo on Saturday.
THE PUNCH LINE
“Too many young performers have forgotten that the most important part of show business is not the second word, it’s the first. Without the show there’s no business.” — Liberace
Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke. “Norm Clarke’s Vegas,” airs Thursdays on the “Morning Blend” on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.