Liberace’s unparalleled musicianship and over-the-top flamboyance made him the highest-paid entertainer in the ’70s. Throughout his life, he was the embodiment of glitz and outrageous showmanship but in the new issue of Closer Weekly, his friends reveal another side of the star that only those close to him saw.

“He treated us like family,” adds Zola Luckie, the daughter of Liberace’s longtime personal chef and house manager Gladys Luckie. “He shared his home with us because he didn’t want my mom to be away from her kids.”

And Liberace loved to share his wealth. “He was always giving things away, even cars and houses,” Jonathan Warren, the chairman and CEO of the Liberace Foundation, tells Closer.

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Liberace in 1969.

To the end, he was wildly generous with his friends, who called him Lee. “If you saw something and mentioned you liked it, chances are you’d get it for Christmas!” Warren shares.

With all his extravagances, however, Liberace kept his own feet on the ground. “He was rich but you wouldn’t know it,” Zola says. “He’d always say thank you, and he was real humble. Around the house, he’d just have on shorts, flip-flops and a T-shirt.”

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His Depression-era upbringing made him a lifelong bargain hunter. “He shopped at Walmart!” friend Jody Ghanem tells Closer. “He’d drive his Excalibur car there wearing his polyester pants!”

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Liberace in 1982.

Today, his friends remember him not just for his generosity but as someone who “lived life to its fullest,” Ghanem says. “He kept his personal life to himself, but he was a very happy individual.”

Adds friend Rip Taylor, “He was a dream. He was full of nothing but love and giving. He wasn’t Liberace the pianist; he was Liberace the man and friend.”

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“He never forgot where he came from,” says longtime friend and wardrobe assistant Terry Clarkston, “or how fortunate he was to achieve what he did.”

For more on Liberace, and all your favorite celebrities, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly on stands now!

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