Lawyer's Statements Contradicted : Liberace Too Gravely Ill to Redo Will, Nurse Testifies

Associated Press

Liberace was so gravely ill the day he signed his revised will and trust that he could not find his way back to his bed from the bathroom, a nurse who cared for the entertainer in his dying days testified Wednesday.

Liberace could barely talk and could not physically put on his glasses or hold a book to read in the final two weeks before he died, nurse Norma Gerber said.

"He was a dying man. He needed a lot of tender, loving care," Gerber said. "He couldn't have a conversation; he was too sick. The motor coordination was going so he'd have difficulty speaking."

Testimony Contradicted

The testimony contradicted earlier testimony by Liberace's attorney, who said that the pianist sat at a table on Jan. 22, 1987, talking with him and going over the estate papers before signing them. The papers named attorney Joel Strote as executor of the estate.

"He'd say yes to anything to please (at that point)," Gerber said. "He just wanted to please anyone and be left alone."

Gerber said she cared for Liberace beginning the day he signed the will until he died from AIDS two weeks later on Feb. 5, 1987.

"He was so childlike he didn't know what he was saying," she said in describing the entertainer's dying days at his Palm Springs home.

The testimony came during a hearing on a request by five former associates of Liberace to remove Strote as executor.

The five--Liberace's sister, his former manager, two housekeepers and a long-time friend--were given $1 million in the late entertainer's will but could lose much of that in legal fees if they lose their current lawsuit.

Testimony in state District Court on Wednesday indicated that three of the five received more in the deathbed will Strote drew up than in a will Liberace executed in 1982.

Provisions of the will had not been made public until Wednesday when state District Judge Michael Wendell declined a plaintiff request to keep the information sealed.

Provisions of Will

Under the will, signed 13 days before his death, Liberace gave $650,000 to his sister, Angie; $250,000 to his companion of seven years, Cary James; $60,000 to Seymour Heller, his manager for 37 years, and $5,000 to Dorothy McMahon, the housekeeper at his Palm Springs home.

In addition, he left James two expensive cars and gave a house, furnishings and a car to a fifth plaintiff, Gladys Luckie, the housekeeper at his Las Vegas home.

James was not named in Liberace's previous will, and Angie Liberace was to receive $450,000 under the 1982 document. Luckie, who had been given the right to live in one of the Liberace homes in the 1982 will, was given the house outright in the 1987 document.

Liberace also left $50,000 in trust to take care of his seven dogs, which he often referred to as his "babies."

In his fourth day of testimony Wednesday, Strote said $900,000 of the money owed the five plaintiffs had been set aside. Strote said he would seek to have the plaintiffs pay the extensive legal costs of the will litigation out of the $900,000 if the judge rules in his favor.

Strote has estimated the value of the estate at $11 million. Heller has estimated the figure at $20 million.

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