January 23, 1959 |
La Crosse, Wisconsin, United States
|Residence||Northern Nevada Correctional Center, Carson City, Nevada, United States|
|Other names||Jess Marlow|
Relationship with Liberace
Thorson met Liberace in 1976 through his romantic friendship with dancer Bob Street (a friend of Hollywood producer Ray Arnett) who was staging Liberace's shows in Vegas. When Thorson was 18, Liberace hired him to act as his personal friend and companion, a position that allegedly included a five-year romantic relationship with lavish gifts, travel, and Liberace's promises that he would adopt and care for Thorson. Liberace claimed that he had "more mink coats and diamonds than Elizabeth Taylor". Other sources, such as Thorson's own book Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace, list Thorson's age at 18 when he met Liberace, though Thorson has in recent years claimed he was "16" and Liberace was "48 years older" at the time of their first meeting. Liberace also incorporated Thorson into his Las Vegas stage performances (e.g., Thorson drove Liberace's Rolls-Royce onstage, and was a dancer). According to Thorson, their committed relationship ended because of Liberace's promiscuous behavior and Thorson's drug addiction. Thorson also claimed that it was Liberace that originally started him on the drugs, but then when it got out of control, Liberace cut him off from all of his credit cards. Thorson stated that following his plastic surgery, the surgeon provided for him a cocktail of highly addictive drugs that included cocaine, quaaludes, biphetamines, and Demerol. Thorson stated that since he was so young at the time of meeting Liberace he would do anything he could to please him, including getting plastic surgery so that he could resemble him, but he felt that their relationship was one-sided. He called Liberace both generous and possessive.
Lawsuit and book publishing
In 1982, Thorson filed a $113 million lawsuit against Liberace, part of which was a palimony suit. This was the first same-sex palimony case filed in U.S. history. Thorson decided to sue because he claimed that Liberace threw him out on the streets with nothing. In 1986, Thorson and Liberace agreed to settle out of court for $95,000. Throughout their lawsuit, Scott stated that Liberace referred to him in the media as a disgruntled employee, a liar, a gold digger, and claimed that there was never a sexual relationship between them. Despite these accusations, he visited and reconciled with Liberace shortly before the entertainer's death in 1987. A year later, Thorson published a book about their relationship, Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace, which was later adapted by Richard LaGravenese and Steven Soderbergh into the 2013 film Behind the Candelabra, in which Thorson was played by Matt Damon opposite Michael Douglas as Liberace.
In 1989, Thorson emerged as a pivotal witness in the prosecution of gangster Eddie Nash, in the 1981 quadruple murders of the Wonderland Gang. For his testimony, he was placed in the federal witness protection program. In 1990, he was shot five times when drug dealers broke into his hotel room in Jacksonville, Florida.
In 2000, Thorson was among several people featured in the British television documentary Liberace: Too Much of a Good Thing Is Wonderful. In 2002, he was interviewed by Larry King on Larry King Live, during which Thorson confirmed that, in the midst of his relationship with Liberace, he chose to have plastic surgery to look more like Liberace at the pianist's suggestion. Also during the interview with King, Thorson revealed his chin implant had been removed earlier in 2002.
In 2008, Thorson pleaded guilty to felony drug and burglary charges and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Following his release, Thorson gave interviews about his relationship with Liberace, one with Howard Stern, in June 2013, in which he talked about former lovers and affairs he had when he lived with Liberace. Another interview was on Entertainment Tonight in May 2012, where he stated that memories of his time with Liberace were still difficult for him. In 1982, he had sued the pianist for $113 million in palimony after he was let go by Liberace. Liberace continued to deny that he was homosexual, and during court depositions in 1984, he insisted that Thorson was never his lover. The case was settled out of court in 1986, with Thorson receiving a $75,000 cash settlement, plus three cars and three pet dogs worth another $20,000. Thorson stated after Liberace's death that he settled because he knew that Liberace was dying, and that he had intended to sue based on conversion of property rather than palimony.
Previously diagnosed with hepatitis C, in the autumn of 2012 Thorson was diagnosed with stage II cancer. Since his diagnosis, Thorson has made public pleas for money to continue his medical treatments. Recently, Thorson has been involved in writing a followup to Behind the Candelabra.
In February 2013, police investigating a lost wallet tracked the use of the victim's credit cards to a hotel in Reno, Nevada. Thorson was found to be using the credit cards, one purpose being to rent a room at the Ponderosa Hotel in Reno, and he was arrested. Thorson (who also uses the alias Jess Marlow, an alias he says that he acquired when he entered the protection program in the Nash case) was booked on a variety of charges, including burglary and using a credit card without consent. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years' probation.
Washoe District Judge Patrick Flanagan granted Thorson probation and suspended his prison sentence for the burglary and identity theft cases in July 2013. Thorson did not do well on probation, but Judge Flanagan gave him another chance in September 2013 to straighten out his life after he tested positive for methamphetamine. Thorson subsequently failed drug tests again—twice in October, and again on November 1, 2013. Thorson was arrested on November 19, 2013, after violating a court order to enter an inpatient treatment facility in Reno two weeks earlier. Finally, on January 23, 2014, Thorson's probation was revoked and he was sentenced to 8 to 20 years in Nevada prison. Thorson's latest benefactor, Dennis Hof the owner of several legal Nevada brothels and the one who bailed Thorson out of jail during some of his 2013 legal problems, has said that this long prison sentence, given Thorson's cancer, is nothing more than a "virtual death sentence." Thorson is currently incarcerated in the Northern Nevada Correctional Center under the name Jess Marlow.
Behind the Candelabra
An HBO original movie, Behind the Candelabra, based on Thorson's book Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace, aired on HBO on May 26, 2013. The film features Matt Damon as Thorson and Michael Douglas as Liberace, and is the first movie on the Thorson–Liberace relationship and its aftermath since the Canada–US made-for-TV movie Liberace: Behind the Music (1988), in which Thorson was portrayed by Michael Dolan. The film was directed by Steven Soderbergh from a screenplay by Richard LaGravenese, with music by Academy Award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch.
- Thorson, Scott & Thorliefson, Alex (1988). Behind the Candelabra — My Life with Liberace. E.P. Dutton Publishing. p. 47. ISBN 0-525-24653-3.
- "Interview with Scott Thorson (Transcript)". Larry King Live. CNN. August 12, 2002. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- Oprah: Where Are They Now? -Interview with Scott Thorson [TV Series]. (2013). United States: OWN TV (Oprah Winfrey Network).
- Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace: Scott Thorson and Alex Thorleifson, E.P. Dutton, New York, 1988
- Metro Digest (16 March 1988). "Local News in Brief: Liberace Companion Held". Los Angeles Times.
- David Segal (2013-05-10). "The Boy Toy's Story". The New York Times.
- "Celebrity Alimony / Palimony". Celeb Legal Issues.
- Rodger Jacobs (May 29, 2009). "Depression 2.0: Sunday in Kerouac Alley". PopMatters.
- "Liberace's Former Lover Details Secret Romance". ETonline.com. Retrieved 2013-06-02.
- "Galery". HowardStern.com. June 17, 2013.
- "Press Express | Not Available". Cbspressexpress.com. Retrieved 2013-06-02.
- Liberace had last laugh on critics by 'crying all the way to the bank' The Pittsburgh Press, February 5, 1987
- "Liberace's Ex-Lover Claims Gay Affair With Jackson". Contactmusic.com. 2004-04-15.
- ETonline staff (2012-10-25). "EXCLUSIVE: Inside Scott Thorson's Cancer Battle". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved 2013-05-04.
- Segal, David (May 10, 2013). "The Boy Toy's Story". The New York Times.
- "Liberace's Alleged Ex-Lover in Washoe County Jail". My News 4. KRNV-DT. 2013-05-28. Retrieved 2013-06-02.
- "Liberace's Ex-Lover Scott Thorson Sentenced To 5 Years Probation After Using Stolen Credit Cards". Radaronline.com. Retrieved 2013-07-18.
- AP (23 January 2014). "Liberace's lover Scott Thorson sentenced to prison". USA TODAY.
- "EXCLUSIVE! LIBERACE EX -LOVER SCOTT THORSON SENTENCED TO PRISON". National Enquirer. 23 January 2014.
- UPI (10 June 2013). "Former Liberace lover Scott Thorson living at Bunny Ranch".
- "Douglas, Damon starring in HBO's Liberace biopic". Content.usatoday.com. 2011-10-11. Retrieved 2013-06-02.
- Katsilometes, John. "Matt Damon looking forward to playing Liberace's lover in upcoming biopic". Lasvegassun.com. Retrieved 2013-06-02.
- "Director Steven Soderbergh on new Liberace film". Youtube.com. 2009-11-20. Retrieved 2013-06-02.