Liberace (1919-1987) Flamboyant performer Liberace was known best for his piano prowess, virtuoso performances, and extravagant wardrobe, homes, and cars. At the height of his fame, he was the highest-paid entertainer in the business, playing for celebrities and dignitaries and headlining a very successful Las Vegas show. Throughout his career there were rumors of his affairs with men, prompting Liberace to file numerous libel suits against publications in an effort to mask his sexuality. He died of AIDS-related pneumonia.
Perry Ellis (1940-1986) best known for his casual American style of sportswear. His use of khakis, hand-knitted sweaters, and oversize jackets led The New York Times to proclaim that he “glorified the clean-cut, all-American look.” At the time, his cause of death was listed as viral encephalitis, but rumors of Ellis’s HIV-positive status made news after it came to light that his lover and business partner, Laughlin Barker, died of Kaposi’s sarcoma, an AIDS-related cancer. The Los Angeles Times ran a 1986 series on journalistic ethics and whether it was appropriate to include AIDS rumors in news stories, with Ellis serving as the focus.
Halston (1932-1990) The fashion designer’s style was known for being minimalist, and the designer often used cashmere and Ultrasuede. His most famous clients were Jackie Onassis, Andy Warhol, and Liza Minnelli. He was also a figure of '70s nightlife in New York and was a staple at the famed disco Studio 54. His long time love was rumored to be window dresser, Victor Hugo. He died of Kaposi’s sarcoma, an AIDS-related cancer.
Pedro Zamora (1972-1994) Most famous for his appearance in the third season of MTV’s The Real World, Zamora was diagnosed with HIV at 17. He became the first out, HIV-positive man to appear on mainstream television, as the breakout star of The Real World's 1994. Zamora dated AIDS educator Sean Sasser while living in the Real World house, and the two exchanged vows in the first-ever televised same-sex commitment ceremony. Sadly, Zamora died hours after the groundbreaking finale aired. Pedro, a 2008 movie written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, dramatized Zamora's life.
Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993) This Soviet-born dancer was known to celebrate both classical ballet and modern dance in the same performance. He defected to France in 1961 and eventually met his longtime love, Danish dancer Erik Bruhn. The two stayed together until Bruhn’s death in 1986. According to The New York Times, The dancer learned that he had HIV in 1984, when he was still much in demand around the world and tried to keep it a secret. He was concerned that some countries, mainly the United States, might refuse him entry if he were known to be HIV positive.