Housekeeper Tells of Entertainer's Final Days
Aug. 09, 1988
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) _ The housekeeper for Liberace sobbed as she recounted how a doctor told her the entertainer was dying of complications from AIDS, then repeated the news in front of him.
Dorothy McMahon said she had not known the source of the pianist's months- long illness until Liberace's physician, Ronald Daniels, told her.
''He said by law he had to tell me what Liberace had, and he had to tell me in front of Liberace,'' she testified in state court Monday.
Ms. McMahon, Liberace's housekeeper for 16 years; Liberace's sister, Angie Liberace; and three others have filed suit in state court seeking to have attorney Joel Strote removed as executor of the will and head of the Liberace Foundation for the Performing Arts, which provides scholarships to nearly 30 colleges and universities.
Ms. McMahon wept loudly as she told of the doctor checking a sore on her hand and ordering her to wear gloves when treating the entertainer. District Judge Michael Wendell ordered a break while she regained her composure and the subject was dropped when testimony continued.
Ms. McMahon said she was informed of the cause of his fatal illness Jan. 22, 1987, the day Liberace signed a new will making Strote the executor of his estate. The plaintiffs say Liberace was too ill to comprehend its meaning when the 1987 will was drawn by Strote.
Strote has testified that Liberace knew what he was doing when the new will was drawn up and signed two weeks before his death on Feb. 4, 1987.
Ms. McMahon said Liberace in his final days could barely walk and talk. She said she had to bathe Liberace and that he was unable to walk by himself or to talk with people in the month before his death.
The housekeeper challenged testimony by Strote that he had talked with Liberace by phone on Jan. 21 to review the will.
''The 21st was the worst day Liberace had,'' she said.
On Jan. 22, Strote came to Liberace's Palm Springs, Calif., home to have the will signed and witnessed.
Liberace slipped into a coma Feb. 1 and never regained consciousness.
''Angie and I would lay on top of him to keep him from shaking so bad,'' Ms. McMahon said.
The hearing on a legal challenge to Liberace's will resumed Monday after being recessed earlier this summer to allow the court to handle other matters.