Local News: LIBERACE LIVES!
Flamboyant Dead Pianist Sold Millions Of Records, Is Seen In Felicity’s Woods
How many of us know that Liberace’s biggest fan is a citizen of Chrislip? Edwina Johnson, 60, has an encyclopedic knowledge of the late pianist’s life. She owns a complete collection of his records, and has even attended several of his shows in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
When Liberace died, part of Mrs. Johnson died too. “I was inconsolable for the longest time, but then it dawned on me that maybe he was just pretending to be dead, like The King,” she said, referring to Elvis Presley, who died in 1977 and now lives in Kalamazoo.
Armed with that conviction, Mrs. Johnson began following a certain routine. Every Sunday after church she packed a lunch and went down to Felicity’s Woods east of town to look for Liberace. She admits that she had no reason to believe that the master showman, who enjoyed worldwide acclaim even though he was a you-know-what, might be roaming around a narrow tract of Northern Michigan forest, but her attitude was “why not?” rather than “why?” Last Sunday the vigil paid off. “I heard something crashing through the underbrush,” she recalls, “and when I looked up I caught a glimpse of something in a chinchilla suit and a fabulous sequined cape disappearing into the jack pines. It was him. I know it was him.” Sheriff Glen Newberry said there is evidence to back up Mrs. Johnson’s story. “We took some hair samples found at the scene, and they match Edwina’s exactly. She was definitely the one who claimed to see Liberace.”
Mrs. Johnson says there are other clues. On one of his concert albums, Liberace says to the audience just before intermission: “I’ll be right back.” According to Mrs. Johnson, if a listener stands near the record player and says, “In Felicity’s Woods outside of Chrislip after I die,” right after Liberace finishes speaking, it sounds eerily as if he is saying, “I’ll be right back n Felicity’s Woods outside of Chrislip after I die.”In spite of what might seem to be overwhelming evidence, some people remain skeptical, believing that Mrs. Johnson probably just saw Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster or a Liberace-shaped space-craft sent from another world to gather humans as food for their starving planet. But others are eager to believe her story. Hilda Miles, 58, says that raccoons have been knocking over her garbage cans, “but the more I think about it, the more sure I am that those raccoons are Liberace.” And Adele Moyerston, 81, is convinced that the flock of sparrows roosting in her barn is actually Mr. Showmanship in disguise. “I may not have all my faculties and I may be half-blind,” she states, “but I know what I think I might have seen, maybe.”
Edwina Johnson theorizes that Liberace studied the faked death of Elvis and was determined not to make the same mistakes. Elvis fell off his toilet and died of drug-induced heart failure. Wanting to avoid that embarrassment, Liberace chose to die of AIDS, a currently popular disease caused by doing it with other guys.
To those non-enquiring souls tempted to scoff at Mrs. Johnson, remember this: They laughed at Edison, they laughed at the Wright Brothers, they laughed at Bell, and they laughed at Chaplin. Need we say more?