January 23, 1959 |
La Crosse, Wisconsin, United States
|Residence||Northern Nevada Correctional Center, Carson City, Nevada, United States|
|Other names||Jess Marlow|
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.
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