Władzio (or Vladzio) Valentino Liberace (/lɪbərˈɑːtʃi/ lib-ər-ah-chee; May 16, 1919 – February 4, 1987), known as Liberace, was an American pianist and vocalist. In a career that spanned four decades of concerts, recordings, motion pictures, television, and endorsements, Liberace became world-famous. During the 1950s–1970s he was the highest-paid entertainer in the world and embraced a lifestyle of flamboyant excess both on and off stage. Liberace publicly denied being gay during his lifetime, and sued those who said he was. Towards the end of his life, his former chauffeur and lover, Scott Thorson, sued him for palimony. Liberace died of an AIDS-related illness in 1987.