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Liberace’s Housekeeper Describes His Final Days

August 9, 1988 GMT

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) _ Entertainer Liberace was a helpless invalid who could barely walk and talk in the final days before his death, his former housekeeper said in tearful testimony in state court Monday.

Dorothy McMahon, who was Liberace’s housekeeper for 16 years, said she had to bathe him and that he was unable to walk by himself or to converse with people in the month before his death in 1987.

Ms. McMahon and four associates of Liberace filed a civil lawsuit challenging the will that was signed by the famed entertainer 13 days before his death on Feb. 4, 1987.


The five seek to have Beverly Hills, Calif., lawyer Joel Strote removed as executor of the will and as head of the Liberace Foundation for the Performing Arts, which provides scholarships to nearly 30 colleges and universities.

Strote has testified that Liberace asked him to oversee his vast estate at a meeting Jan. 15, 1987, less than three weeks before the pianist’s death.

But on Monday, Ms. McMahon disputed Strote’s testimony, saying Liberace was too ill to comprehend what he was doing when he met with Strote in mid- January.

″The night of the 14th he had the shakes and a high fever,″ Ms. McMahon testified Monday. ″I bathed him, trying to get the fever down.

The housekeeper said she remained with Liberace the entire month of January as his health grew worse. Liberace died of complications of AIDS.

Ms. McMahon also disputed Strote’s testimony that he discussed the will with Liberace by telephone after the Jan. 15 meeting.

″He didn’t talk on the phone the whole month of January,″ she said. ″He had sent out all his letters and he didn’t want to talk to anyone. He was too ill and didn’t carry on a conversation.″

The housekeeper challenged testimony by Strote that he had talked with Liberace by phone on Jan. 21 to review the will.

″The 21st was the worst day Liberace had,″ she said. It took two people to get him in the bathtub to bathe him that day, she said.

On Jan. 22 Strote came to Liberace’s Palm Springs, Calif., home to have the will signed and witnessed.

The hearing on the legal challenge to the will resumed Monday after being recessed earlier this summer to allow the court to handle other matters.

The five plaintiffs include Ms. McMahon; Liberace’s sister, Angie Liberace; Liberace’s former manager, Seymour Heller; former housekeeper Gladys Luckie, and former companion Cary James.

Attorneys for the five contend that Strote has mishandled money from the estate.

Strote’s attorneys deny the claim, saying the will was executed while Liberace was capable of understanding the document, and that Strote has served well as the estate executor.