African American Bowling Shirt. Bra Flag. Liberace's Performance Jacket. The Oscar Mayer Wiener Banjo-Ukulele. A Bull Semen Parachute. These artifacts and their stories are part of the wonderful online exhibit of objects held by the Wisconsin Historical Museum. Enjoy browsing the collection!
To start with the beginning: Jack Sheppard was a notorious English robber who inspired John Gay to write The Beggar's Opera (1728). Two centuries later, the German composer Kurt Weill and dramatist Bertolt Brecht adapted it into a musical as a socialist critique of capitalism and the modern world: Die Dreigroschenoper. It was about to open when the lead actor demanded a song to introduce his character. It was this song that would open the play and at its premiere, it was Kurt Gerron who would be the first to sing the Moriat of Macky Messer as the street singer setting the scene. [more inside]
In 1956, Time Magazine wrote, "He is the summit of sex—the pinnacle of Masculine, Feminine and Neuter. Everything that He, She or It can ever want." (Wait. Seriously???) Behold the evolution of The Liberace Show: from dapper virtuoso to sequined, wacky showman. [more inside]