|Liberace explores dualities on Batman|
Michael Douglas will probably win an Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award for his performance. Matt Damon as his boyfriend will be submitted as a Supporting Actor so he can win too, but his role was equally prominent.
In the Batman episode, "The Devil's Fingers/The Dead Ringers," Liberace's sexuality is given the satiric treatment, but of course, the entire series was a goof on mid-America's "traditional values." Batman was in reality millionaire Bruce Wayne living out an adolescent fantasy of fighting crime in tights with his youthful ward Dick Grayson aka Robin. The only steady female presence in their lives was den mother Aunt Harriet, placed in the Wayne mansion presumably to keep the household from descending into a gay orgy with three single men, including the prissy butler Alfred, getting up to heaven knows what. In this episode, Aunt Harriet stands in for all the middle-aged ladies who swooned over Lee and longed to enfold him in a motherly embrace. Chandell attempts to seduce Aunt Harriet in order to get the Wayne fortune, while all the time he uses a gang of beautiful chorus girls to commit high-end, musical-themed robberies. Robin even makes a reference to Chandell's reputation as a ladies' man. There's a ridiculous scene with Chandell and Harriet enjoying a romantic tryst, sipping root beer as if it were champagne.
Interestingly, this was the highest rated Batman sequence of the entire series and possibly the campiest. Here was a drag-inspired, gay performer playing a version of himself seducing an old lady while hanging out with gorgeous women. To add to the duality, he's also playing a macho doppelganger, society's idea of what a real "man" should be. The only episode with a higher camp quotient would be the "Black Widow" one where Tallulah Bankhead disguised herself as Robin and her signature growl came out of Burt Ward's mouth.
Liberace's Laugh-In appearance stirred clear of overt gay double entendres; those were reserved for regular Alan Sues who played a swishy sportscaster and occasionally made veiled queen jokes during the cocktail party sequence. You couldn't even acknowledge gay sexuality in the late 1960s, gays were "artistic and eccentric" like Paul Lynde's Uncle Arthur of Bewitched.
In the end, Liberace dies of AIDS and, like Rock Hudson, tried to hide even the gay-associated cause of his death. If he were alive today, he'd probably revel in the new acceptance of diversity, and indulge in serial marriages like a gay Elizabeth Taylor.