From the movie Behind the Candelabra:

Scott: And I have two sisters and a brother, and then four half-brothers and sisters from two different fathers. Most of them live with their fathers. The rest of us, like me and Wayne, we were sent to state-run homes and then Mom would come get us and we'd live with her for a while, then... she'd have her troubles again and they'd have to put her away. So we'd get split up and sent to foster homes. But I was really lucky. I ended up with Rose and Joe. You know, a really nice family, on a ranch. You know, with animals.

Liberace: Sure, because it was a ranch! What a story! You got everything but a fire in the orphanage.

Like a fire in the fireplace?

2 Answers 2


A fire in an orphanage would be a tragic and sensational episode in a story. Liberace is implying that Scott's life story is nearly as tragic as it is possible to be. This is possibly an assessment by "Lee" (Liberace) of Scott's life story as a story (like e.g. a film plot - Liberace was a showman)


  • oh, so the ranch is an orphanage?
    – InitK
    May 9, 2018 at 19:06
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    @InitK No, basically Child Protective Services sent Scott and his siblings to various foster homes, and Scott wound up in a family with a ranch.
    – Eddie Kal
    May 9, 2018 at 19:14

"everything but a fire" is equals to "everything except a fire".

I think in this case, fire means ultimate bad and dangerous thing that can happen to a child. So, Liberace means that all kind of bad things happen in orphanage and in comparison, living on a ranch looks really lucky.

From Michael Harvey's answer, it seems that a ranch was actually an orphanage (I'm sorry I don't know the story and was trying to understand the meaning purely from the context). So, it's possible that only the first part is correct. "All kind of bad and dangerous and tragic things happen in orphanage (ranch) and this is quite a story". "Sure, because it was a ranch!" - this sounds sarcastic.

  • I did not say, or imply, that the "ranch" was an orphanage. Scott told a story that finished with a foster placement with a couple called Rose and Joe, who lived on a ranch. In the review I linked to, Liberace's remark "everything but a fire in the orphanage" is compared to another remark showing tough love in another film, "All about Eve" - "After Eve tells the story of her sad and pitiful life, Birdie doesn't buy it: BIRDIE: What a story. Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." There was no fire in an orphanage. It's a comment about the story Scott told. May 9, 2018 at 19:43
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    I hope everybody realises that Liberace was a real person, who was famously camp, waspish and bitchy. The "fire in the orphanage" remark would have been typical of him. May 9, 2018 at 19:46
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    It's like saying to someone who told a sad story about themselves, "What a story. Everything but Bambi's mommy getting shot". May 9, 2018 at 20:04
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    You never heard of Liberace? He was on the TV lots when I was a kid. He was often criticised for his very, very camp style, and when he was asked how he felt about that, famously replied "I was upset. I cried all the way to the bank". May 9, 2018 at 20:09
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    You never read anything about the movie before seeing it? Never mind. I am always saying to younger people "You never heard of [whoever]? Really?" May 9, 2018 at 20:15

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