Kilgore — Van Cliburn, the internationally celebrated pianist who grew up in Kilgore, died Wednesday at his home in Fort Worth. He was 78.
Cliburn’s triumph at a 1958 Moscow competition helped thaw the Cold War and launched a spectacular career that made him the rare classical musician to enjoy rock star status. His death was the result of bone cancer, said publicist and longtime friend Mary Lou Falcone.
Kilgore Mayor Ronnie Spradlin said Cliburn’s death was a blow to the city.
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