Oscar Levant
Overview
Oscar Levant was an American pianist
Pianist
A pianist is a musician who plays the piano. A professional pianist can perform solo pieces, play with an ensemble or orchestra, or accompany one or more singers, solo instrumentalists, or other performers.-Choice of genres:...

, composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

, author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

, comedian
Comedian
A comedian or comic is a person who seeks to entertain an audience, primarily by making them laugh. This might be through jokes or amusing situations, or acting a fool, as in slapstick, or employing prop comedy...

, and actor
Actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

. He was more famous for his mordant character and witticisms, on the radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 and in movies
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

 and television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

, than for his music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, to an Orthodox Jewish
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 family from Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Levant moved to New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 with his mother, Annie, in 1922, following the death of his father, Max. He began studying under Zygmunt Stojowski
Zygmunt Stojowski
Zygmunt Denis Antoni Jordan de Stojowski was a Polish pianist and composer.-Life:Born near the city of Kielce, Stojowski began his musical training with his mother, and with Polish composer Władysław Żeleński. In Kraków, as a seventeen-year-old student, he made his debut as a concert pianist...

, a well-established piano
Piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

 pedagogue. In 1924, aged 18, he appeared with Ben Bernie
Ben Bernie
Ben Bernie , born Bernard Anzelevitz, was an American jazz violinist and radio personality, often introduced as The Old Maestro. He was noted for his showmanship and memorable bits of snappy dialogue....

 in a short film, Ben Bernie and All the Lads
Ben Bernie and All the Lads
Ben Bernie and All the Lads is a short film made in 1923 by Lee De Forest in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film process. The film features Ben Bernie conducting his band All The Lads, and features pianist Oscar Levant....

, made in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 in the DeForest Phonofilm
Phonofilm
In 1919, Lee De Forest, inventor of the audion tube, filed his first patent on a sound-on-film process, DeForest Phonofilm, which recorded sound directly onto film as parallel lines. These parallel lines photographically recorded electrical waveforms from a microphone, which were translated back...

 sound-on-film
Sound-on-film
Sound-on-film refers to a class of sound film processes where the sound accompanying picture is physically recorded onto photographic film, usually, but not always, the same strip of film carrying the picture. Sound-on-film processes can either record an analog sound track or digital sound track,...

 system.

In 1928, Levant traveled to Hollywood where his career took a turn for the better.
Quotations

It's not a pretty face, I grant you. But underneath its flabby exterior is an enormous lack of character.

Describing himself, in lines he contributed to An American In Paris (1951), although officially credited to Alan Jay Lerner|Alan Jay Lerner, as told in The Memoirs of an Amnesiac (1965); also quoted in The Dictionary of Biographical Quotation of British and American Subjects (1978) by Richard Kenin and Justin Wintle, p. 485

The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.

As quoted in The New Speaker's Treasury of Wit and Wisdom (1958) by Herbert Victor Prochnow, p. 322

I don't drink. I don't like it — It makes me feel good.

As quoted in TIME magazine (5 May 1958)

I'm a study of a man in chaos in search of frenzy.

As quoted in TIME (5 May 1958)

There is a thin line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.

As quoted in Celebrity Register : An Irreverent Compendium of American Quotable Notables (1959) by Cleveland Amory

Strip away the phony tinsel of Hollywood and you will find the real tinsel underneath.

As quoted in Jewish Wit (1962) by Theodor Reik, p. 104, also in Inquisition in Eden (1965) and Whatever It Is, I’m Against It (1984) by Nat Shapiro

I once said cynically of a politician, "He'll double-cross that bridge when he comes to it."

The Memoirs of an Amnesiac (1965), p. 13; also quoted in The Quotable Politician (2003) by William B. Whitman, p. 31

An epigram is only a wisecrack that's played at Carnegie Hall.

As quoted in Coronet Magazine (September 1968)

Happiness isn't something you experience; it's something you remember.

As quoted in TIME (28 August 1972)

I knew Doris Day|Doris Day before she was a virgin.

As quoted in The Wit and Wisdom of Hollywood (1972) by Max Wilk

Encyclopedia
Oscar Levant was an American pianist
Pianist
A pianist is a musician who plays the piano. A professional pianist can perform solo pieces, play with an ensemble or orchestra, or accompany one or more singers, solo instrumentalists, or other performers.-Choice of genres:...

, composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

, author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

, comedian
Comedian
A comedian or comic is a person who seeks to entertain an audience, primarily by making them laugh. This might be through jokes or amusing situations, or acting a fool, as in slapstick, or employing prop comedy...

, and actor
Actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

. He was more famous for his mordant character and witticisms, on the radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 and in movies
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

 and television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

, than for his music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

.

Life and career

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, to an Orthodox Jewish
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 family from Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Levant moved to New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 with his mother, Annie, in 1922, following the death of his father, Max. He began studying under Zygmunt Stojowski
Zygmunt Stojowski
Zygmunt Denis Antoni Jordan de Stojowski was a Polish pianist and composer.-Life:Born near the city of Kielce, Stojowski began his musical training with his mother, and with Polish composer Władysław Żeleński. In Kraków, as a seventeen-year-old student, he made his debut as a concert pianist...

, a well-established piano
Piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

 pedagogue. In 1924, aged 18, he appeared with Ben Bernie
Ben Bernie
Ben Bernie , born Bernard Anzelevitz, was an American jazz violinist and radio personality, often introduced as The Old Maestro. He was noted for his showmanship and memorable bits of snappy dialogue....

 in a short film, Ben Bernie and All the Lads
Ben Bernie and All the Lads
Ben Bernie and All the Lads is a short film made in 1923 by Lee De Forest in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film process. The film features Ben Bernie conducting his band All The Lads, and features pianist Oscar Levant....

, made in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 in the DeForest Phonofilm
Phonofilm
In 1919, Lee De Forest, inventor of the audion tube, filed his first patent on a sound-on-film process, DeForest Phonofilm, which recorded sound directly onto film as parallel lines. These parallel lines photographically recorded electrical waveforms from a microphone, which were translated back...

 sound-on-film
Sound-on-film
Sound-on-film refers to a class of sound film processes where the sound accompanying picture is physically recorded onto photographic film, usually, but not always, the same strip of film carrying the picture. Sound-on-film processes can either record an analog sound track or digital sound track,...

 system.

In 1928, Levant traveled to Hollywood where his career took a turn for the better. During his stay, he met and befriended George Gershwin
George Gershwin
George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin's compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known...

. From 1929 to 1948 he composed the music for more than twenty movies. During this period, he also wrote or co-wrote numerous popular songs that made the Hit Parade
Hit parade
A hit parade is a ranked list of the most popular recordings at a given point in time, usually determined by sales and/or airplay. The term originated in the 1930s; Billboard magazine published its first music hit parade on January 4, 1936...

, the most noteworthy being "Blame It on My Youth
Blame It on My Youth
Blame It On My Youth is an album by the Holly Cole Trio. It was released in 1992 on the Manhattan imprint of Capitol Records.- Track listing :# "Trust in Me" – 3:23...

" (1934), now considered a standard.

Around 1932, Levant began composing seriously. He studied under Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg was an Austrian composer, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School...

 and impressed him sufficiently to be offered an assistantship (which he turned down, considering himself unqualified). His formal studies led to a request by Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later in his career a conductor of his own and other American music. He was instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, and is often referred to as "the Dean of American Composers"...

 to play at the Yaddo
Yaddo
Yaddo is an artists' community located on a 400 acre estate in Saratoga Springs, New York. Its mission is "to nurture the creative process by providing an opportunity for artists to work without interruption in a supportive environment."...

 Festival of contemporary American music on April 30 of that year. Successful, Levant began on a new orchestral work, a sinfonietta
Sinfonietta (symphony)
A sinfonietta is a symphony that is smaller in scale or lighter in approach than a standard symphony. Although of Italian form, the word is not genuine in that language and has seldom been used by Italian composers. It appears to have been coined in 1874 by Joachim Raff for his Op...

. He married actress Barbara Woodell; they divorced in 1932.

In 1939, Levant married for the second time, to singer and actress June Gale (née Gilmartin), part of the singing foursome The Gale Sisters (besides June, there were Jane, Joan, and Jean). They were married for almost 33 years, until his death, and had three children, Marcia, Lorna, and Amanda.

At this time, Levant was perhaps best known to American audiences as one of the regular panelists on the radio quiz show Information Please
Information Please
Information Please was an American radio quiz show, created by Dan Golenpaul, which aired on NBC from May 17, 1938 to April 22, 1951. The title was the contemporary phrase used to request from telephone operators what was then called "information" but is now called "directory assistance".The series...

. Originally scheduled as a guest panelist, Levant proved so quick-witted and popular that he became a regular fixture on the show in the late 1930s and 1940s, along with fellow panelists Franklin P. Adams
Franklin Pierce Adams
Franklin Pierce Adams was an American columnist, well known by his initials F.P.A., and wit, best known for his newspaper column, "The Conning Tower", and his appearances as a regular panelist on radio's Information Please...

 and John Kieran, and moderator Clifton Fadiman
Clifton Fadiman
Clifton P. "Kip" Fadiman was an American intellectual, author, editor, radio and television personality.-Literary career:...

. "Mr. Levant", as he was always called, was often challenged with musical questions, though he impressed audiences with his wide depth of knowledge and quickness with a joke. Kieran praised Levant as having a "positive genius for making offhand cutting remarks that couldn't have been sharper if he'd honed them a week in his mind. Oscar was always good for a bright response edged with acid".

From 1947 to 1949, Levant regularly appeared on NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 radio's Kraft Music Hall
Kraft Music Hall
The Kraft Music Hall was a popular variety program, featuring top show business entertainers, which aired on NBC radio and television from 1933 to 1971....

, starring Al Jolson
Al Jolson
Al Jolson was an American singer, comedian and actor. In his heyday, he was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer"....

. He not only accompanied Jolson on the piano and played classical and popular solos, but often joked and ad-libbed with Jolson and his guests. This includes comedy sketches. The pairing of the two entertainers was inspired. Their individual ties to George Gershwin
George Gershwin
George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin's compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known...

 --- Jolson introduced Gershwin's "Swanee
Swanee
Swanee may refer to:* "Swanee", a song by George Gershwin and Irving Caesar; made popular by Al Jolson* Suwanee River, misspelled by Stephen Foster in writing "Old Folks at Home".* Swanee , an Australian rock singer...

" --- undoubtedly had much to do with their rapport. Both Levant and Jolson appeared as themselves in the Gershwin biopic Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue (film)
Rhapsody in Blue is a 1945 fictionalized screen biography of the American composer and musician George Gershwin . Starring Robert Alda as Gershwin, the film features a few of Gershwin's acquaintances playing themselves...

(1945).

In the early 1950s, Levant was an occasional panelist on the NBC game show
Game show
A game show is a type of radio or television program in which members of the public, television personalities or celebrities, sometimes as part of a team, play a game which involves answering questions or solving puzzles usually for money and/or prizes...

, Who Said That?
Who Said That?
Who Said That? is a 1947-55 NBC radio-television game show, in which a panel of celebrities attempts to determine the speaker of a quotation from recent news reports. The series was first proposed and edited by Fred W. Friendly, later of CBS News....

, in which celebrites try to determine the speaker of quotations taken from recent news reports.

Between 1958 and 1960, Levant hosted a television talk show
Talk show
A talk show or chat show is a television program or radio program where one person discuss various topics put forth by a talk show host....

 on KCOP-TV
KCOP-TV
KCOP-TV, channel 13, is a television station in Los Angeles, California. Owned by Fox Television Stations, a division of the News Corporation, KCOP is a sister station to Fox network outlet KTTV , and is affiliated with the MyNetworkTV programming service...

 in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, The Oscar Levant Show, which later became syndicated
Television syndication
In broadcasting, syndication is the sale of the right to broadcast radio shows and television shows by multiple radio stations and television stations, without going through a broadcast network, though the process of syndication may conjure up structures like those of a network itself, by its very...

. It featured his piano playing along with monologues and interviews with top-name guests such as Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor. His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute...

 and Linus Pauling
Linus Pauling
Linus Carl Pauling was an American chemist, biochemist, peace activist, author, and educator. He was one of the most influential chemists in history and ranks among the most important scientists of the 20th century...

. A full recording of only two shows is known to exist, one with Astaire, who paid to have a kinescope recording of the broadcast made, so that he could assess his performance. This is likely the only Astaire performance to have imperfections, as it was live, and Levant would repeatedly change the tempo of his accompaniment to Astaire's singing during the bridges between verses, which appeared to get him quite off balance at first. He did not dance, as the studio space was extremely small.

The show was highly controversial, eventually being taken from the air after a comment about Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, singer, model and showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s....

's conversion to Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

: "Now that Marilyn Monroe is kosher, Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller
Arthur Asher Miller was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include plays such as All My Sons , Death of a Salesman , The Crucible , and A View from the Bridge .Miller was often in the public eye,...

 can eat her". He later stated that he "hadn't meant it that way". Several months later, the show began to be broadcast in a slightly revised format—it was taped in order to provide a buffer for Levant's antics. This, however, failed to prevent Levant from making comments about Mae West
Mae West
Mae West was an American actress, playwright, screenwriter and sex symbol whose entertainment career spanned seven decades....

's sex life that caused the show to be canceled for good. Levant was also a frequent guest on Jack Paar
Jack Paar
Jack Harold Paar was an author, American radio and television comedian and talk show host, best known for his stint as host of The Tonight Show from 1957 to 1962...

's talk show, prompting Paar in later years to sign off by saying, "Good night, Oscar Levant, wherever you are." On an appearance on the Tonight Show, from New York, Levant once quipped that his Jaguar ambulance was waiting outside for him.

The 1920s and 1930s wit Alexander Woollcott
Alexander Woollcott
Alexander Humphreys Woollcott was an American critic and commentator for The New Yorker magazine and a member of the Algonquin Round Table....

, a member of the Algonquin Round Table
Algonquin Round Table
The Algonquin Round Table was a celebrated group of New York City writers, critics, actors and wits. Gathering initially as part of a practical joke, members of "The Vicious Circle", as they dubbed themselves, met for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 until roughly 1929...

, once said of him: "There isn't anything the matter with Levant that a few miracles wouldn't cure."

Open about his neuroses and hypochondria
Hypochondria
Hypochondriasis or hypochondria refers to excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness. This debilitating condition is the result of an inaccurate perception of the body’s condition despite the absence of an actual medication condition...

, Levant, in later life became addicted to prescription drugs and was frequently committed to mental hospitals by his wife. Despite his afflictions, Levant was considered a genius by some, in many areas. (He himself wisecracked "There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.")

Later life and death

Levant drew increasingly away from the limelight in his later years. Upon his death in Beverly Hills, California
Beverly Hills, California
Beverly Hills is an affluent city located in Los Angeles County, California, United States. With a population of 34,109 at the 2010 census, up from 33,784 as of the 2000 census, it is home to numerous Hollywood celebrities. Beverly Hills and the neighboring city of West Hollywood are together...

 of a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 at the age of 65, he was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
The Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery is a cemetery in the Westwood Village area of Los Angeles, California. It is located at 1218 Glendon Avenue in Westwood....

 in Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

. In their routines, some comics have claimed, apocryphally, and citing an old joke, that hypochondriac Levant's epitaph was inscribed, "I told them I was ill."

Filmography

  • Ben Bernie and All the Lads
    Ben Bernie and All the Lads
    Ben Bernie and All the Lads is a short film made in 1923 by Lee De Forest in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film process. The film features Ben Bernie conducting his band All The Lads, and features pianist Oscar Levant....

    (1924
    1924 in film
    -Events:* Entertainment entrepreneur Marcus Loew gained control of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures Corporation and Louis B. Mayer Pictures to create Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer...

    ), filmed in early DeForest Phonofilm
    Phonofilm
    In 1919, Lee De Forest, inventor of the audion tube, filed his first patent on a sound-on-film process, DeForest Phonofilm, which recorded sound directly onto film as parallel lines. These parallel lines photographically recorded electrical waveforms from a microphone, which were translated back...

     sound-on-film process.
  • The Dance of Life (1929
    1929 in film
    -Events:The days of the silent film are numbered. A mad scramble to provide synchronized sound is on.*January 20 - The movie In Old Arizona is released. The film is the first full-length talking film to be filmed outdoors....

    )
  • Night Parade (1929
    1929 in film
    -Events:The days of the silent film are numbered. A mad scramble to provide synchronized sound is on.*January 20 - The movie In Old Arizona is released. The film is the first full-length talking film to be filmed outdoors....

    ) (uncredited)
  • In Person (1935
    1935 in film
    -Events:*Judy Garland signs a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer .*Seven year old Shirley Temple wins a special Academy Award.*The Bantu Educational Kinema Experiment started in order to educate the Bantu peoples.-Top grossing films:-Academy Awards:...

    )
  • Rhythm on the River
    Rhythm on the River
    Rhythm on the River is a 1940 musical comedy film starring Bing Crosby and Mary Martin as ghostwriters whose songs are credited to a composer played by Basil Rathbone. James V...

    (1940
    1940 in film
    The year 1940 in film involved some significant events, including the premieres of the Walt Disney classics Pinocchio and Fantasia.-Events:*February 7 - Walt Disney's animated film Pinocchio is released....

    )
  • Kiss the Boys Goodbye (1941
    1941 in film
    The year 1941 in film involved some significant events.-Events:Citizen Kane, consistently rated as one of the greatest films of all time, was released in 1941.-Top grossing films :-Academy Awards:...

    )
  • Rhapsody in Blue
    Rhapsody in Blue (film)
    Rhapsody in Blue is a 1945 fictionalized screen biography of the American composer and musician George Gershwin . Starring Robert Alda as Gershwin, the film features a few of Gershwin's acquaintances playing themselves...

    (1945
    1945 in film
    The year 1945 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* Paramount Studios releases theatrical short cartoon titled The Friendly Ghost, featuring a ghost named Casper.* With Rossellini's Roma Città aperta, Italian neorealist cinema begins....

    )
  • Humoresque
    Humoresque (film)
    Humoresque is a 1946 Warner Bros. feature film starring Joan Crawford and John Garfield in an older woman/younger man tale about a violinist and his patroness. The screenplay by Clifford Odets and Zachary Gold was based upon a novel by Fannie Hurst...

    (1946
    1946 in film
    The year 1946 in film involved some significant events.-Events:*November 21 - William Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives premieres in New York featuring an ensemble cast including Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, and Harold Russell.*December 20 - Frank Capra's It's a...

    )
  • Romance on the High Seas
    Romance on the High Seas
    Romance on the High Seas is a 1948 Technicolor musical romantic comedy film starring Jack Carson, Janis Paige, Don DeFore, and Doris Day in her film debut....

    (1948
    1948 in film
    The year 1948 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* Laurence Olivier's Hamlet becomes the first British film to win the American Academy Award for Best Picture.-Top grossing films : After theatrical re-issue- Awards :...

    ), Doris Day's first picture.
  • You Were Meant for Me
    You Were Meant for Me (film)
    You Were Meant for Me is a 1948 20th Century Fox musical film directed by Lloyd Bacon starring Dan Dailey and Jeanne Crain as a bandleader and his wife. Marilyn Monroe worked on the film as an uncredited extra.-See also:...

    (1948
    1948 in film
    The year 1948 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* Laurence Olivier's Hamlet becomes the first British film to win the American Academy Award for Best Picture.-Top grossing films : After theatrical re-issue- Awards :...

    )
  • The Barkleys of Broadway
    The Barkleys of Broadway
    The Barkleys of Broadway is a 1949 musical film from the Arthur Freed unit at MGM that reunited Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers after ten years apart...

    (1949
    1949 in film
    The year 1949 in film involved some significant events.-Top grossing films :- Awards :Academy Awards:*Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff, starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello...

    )
  • An American in Paris
    An American in Paris (film)
    An American in Paris is a 1951 MGM musical film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guetary, and Nina Foch, the film is set in Paris, and was directed by Vincente Minnelli from a script by Alan Jay Lerner...

    (1951
    1951 in film
    The year 1951 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* Sweden - May Britt is scouted by Italian film-makers Carlo Ponti and Mario Soldati-Top grossing films : After theatrical re-issue- Awards :Academy Awards:...

    ), where he played a bohemian
    Bohemianism
    Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic or literary pursuits...

     pianist.
  • O. Henry's Full House
    O. Henry's Full House
    O. Henry's Full House is an anthology film made by 20th Century Fox, consisting of five separate stories by O. Henry. The film was produced by André Hakim and directed by five separate directors from five separate screenplays. The music score was composed by Alfred Newman...

    (1952
    1952 in film
    The year 1952 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* January 10 - Cecil B. DeMille's circus epic, The Greatest Show on Earth, premieres at Radio City Music Hall in New York City....

    )
  • The I Don't Care Girl (1953
    1953 in film
    The year 1953 in film involved some significant events.-Events:*September 16 — The Robe debuts as the first anamorphic, widescreen CinemaScope film.-Top grossing films : After theatrical re-issue- Awards :Academy Awards:A...

    )
  • The Band Wagon
    The Band Wagon
    The Band Wagon is a 1953 musical comedy film that many critics rank, along with Singin' in the Rain, as the finest of the MGM musicals, although it was only a modest box-office success. It tells the story of an aging musical star who hopes a Broadway play will restart his career...

    (1953
    1953 in film
    The year 1953 in film involved some significant events.-Events:*September 16 — The Robe debuts as the first anamorphic, widescreen CinemaScope film.-Top grossing films : After theatrical re-issue- Awards :Academy Awards:A...

    ), where his songwriter character was based on the movie's own co-screenwriter — songwriter Adolph Green
    Adolph Green
    Adolph Green was an American lyricist and playwright who, with long-time collaborator Betty Comden, penned the screenplays and songs for some of the most beloved movie musicals, particularly as part of Arthur Freed's production unit at MGM, during the genre's heyday...

    .
  • The Cobweb
    The Cobweb (film)
    The Cobweb is a MGM film. It was directed by Vincente Minnelli and based on a novel by William Gibson. It was released on DVD as part of the Warner Archive Collection on January 18, 2011....

    (1955
    1955 in film
    The year 1955 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* November 3 - The musical Guys and Dolls, starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra, debuts.* June 27 - The last ever Republic serial, King of the Carnival, is released....

    )
  • The Oscar Levant Show (1958
    1958 in film
    The year 1958 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* February 16- "In the Money" by William Beaudine is released on this date. It would be the last installment of The Bowery Boys series which began back in 1946....

    )

Broadway

  • Burlesque (1927) - musical play
    Play (theatre)
    A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference whether their plays were performed...

     - performer
  • Ripples (1930) - musical - co-composer
    Composer
    A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

  • Sweet and Low (1930) - musical revue - songwriter
  • The Fabulous Invalid (1938) - musical play
    Play (theatre)
    A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference whether their plays were performed...

     - replacement conductor
    Conducting
    Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble...

  • The American Way (1939) - musical play
    Play (theatre)
    A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference whether their plays were performed...

     - conductor and composer

Memoirs

  • A Smattering of Ignorance, New York : Doubleday, 1940
    1940 in literature
    The year 1940 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*Aldous Huxley is a screenwriter for the movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.*Jean-Paul Sartre is taken prisoner by the Germans....

  • The Memoirs of an Amnesiac, New York : Putnam's, 1965
    1965 in literature
    The year 1965 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-New books:*Lloyd Alexander - The Black Cauldron*J. G. Ballard - The Drought*Ray Bradbury - The Vintage Bradbury*John Brunner...

  • The Unimportance of Being Oscar
    The Unimportance of Being Oscar
    The Unimportance of Being Oscar is a 1968 memoir by writer/pianist/actor Oscar Levant. The book is known for Oscar's laconic witticisms, such as "everyone in Hollywood is gay, except Gabby Hayes — and that's because he is a transvestite."-Details:...

    , New York : Putnam's, 1968
    1968 in literature
    The year 1968 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:* Dean R. Koontz's first novel, Star Quest is published....


External links

  • Levant at Classical Net
  • Ben Bernie and All the Lads (1924), a film featuring Levant as pianist, made in Phonofilm
    Phonofilm
    In 1919, Lee De Forest, inventor of the audion tube, filed his first patent on a sound-on-film process, DeForest Phonofilm, which recorded sound directly onto film as parallel lines. These parallel lines photographically recorded electrical waveforms from a microphone, which were translated back...

     process by Lee DeForest in New York City
  • Web biography
  • 1958 clip from the Oscar Levant Show featuring Fred Astaire
    Fred Astaire
    Fred Astaire was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor. His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute...

     at YouTube
    YouTube
    YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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