HE was the highest paid entertainer of his time; a pianist, singer and actor with such flamboyance he became known as Mr Showmanship.

About 40 women and girls gave 35-year-old American artist Lee Liberace a hysterical welcome as he arrived in Southampton on board the 81,000-ton Queen Mary.

The welcome on September 25, 1956, was the largest given to a member of the entertainment world at the port since the North Atlantic service was reconvened after the Second World War.

When Liberace appeared, accompanied by his mother and violinist brother George, the fans went wild. They surrounded the performer shrieking with joy as he made his way to his special six-coach train.

The welcome continued after Liberace boarded the train. He sat with a beaming smile as the welcoming party surrounded his coach. Many of the ecstatic girls pressed kisses on the glass, others put their hands through the coach window in an attempt to touch their hero.

Dock workers enjoying the scene added to the excitement with shouts of “Swoon.”

In the welcoming party were Eastleigh residents Sheila Dean and her daughter Eileen.

“We both like Liberace and his playing very much,” said Sheila. “We have seen him on the films, we love listening to his records, and we keep all the press clippings about him.”

Extra British Transport Commission police were on duty on the Terminal platform to keep the welcome under control.

Before coming ashore, Liberace spent nearly an hour on the Queen Mary’s sun deck posing for the press with his mother and brother.

He told the reporters of how he wanted to be a typical American tourist in England, getting into the back roads, seeing the countryside and meeting the people there and in the suburbs.

“I understand you’ve had a rather unpleasant summer here,” he said. “Perhaps we will bring a little sunshine into it.”

As well as being in the United Kingdom to take in the sites, Liberace delivered eight concerts - three in London and the rest in Leicester, Croydon, Manchester, Sheffield and Dublin.

As these pictures from the time show, the star wore a black and white pebble heather two-piece suit with black tie and black shoes. He explained to the press that he dressed in somewhat flamboyant style because he was a member of a glamorous world - the entertainment world.

Liberace brought his concert grand piano over on the ship which was sent to London by road.

At Waterloo a large crowd cheered wildly as the star’s train arrived at 12.25pm.

Boos could also be heard coming from a group of students who marched in carrying a banner declaring “We hate Liberace. Charlie Kunz forever.”