Ray Arnett, a choreographer and stage director best known for his decades spent working with Liberace, died on March 12 in Beverly Hills. He was 97.
In HBO’s critically acclaimed Liberace biopic “Behind the Candelabra,” Arnett was portrayed by Tom Papa.
Arnett became Liberace’s stage director in the late 1950s, when the future Mr. Showmanship embraced a fully showy stage persona.
Arnett would spend the better part of the next three decades with Liberace, beginning with his European tour aboard the Queen Mary. By 1984 Arnett would finally get to see his own name in lights on the marquee above Radio City Music Hall as the producer for Liberace’s 21 sold-out performances.
Candid and charismatic, Arnett made friends easily with the tact and talent to wrangle a diva, and they respected him for it.
Arnett supported the arts and local community throughout his life.
The son of the Shubert family’s private chauffeur in New York City, Arnett was nicknamed “King of the Gypsies” early in his career for being the hardest-working chorus boy in the now cult classic “Forgotten Musicals.” Soon thereafter, Arnett would dance his way from stage shows alongside the legendary Mae West to television and eventually his one-man show featuring satirical portraits.