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A Talent for Genius: The Life and Times of Oscar Levant

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A Talent for Genius: The Life and Times of Oscar Levant Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Oscar Levant was the Amadeus of Hollywood, the Oscar Wilde of Broadway — and the most wildly self-destructive personality ever to become a household name. An astonishingly gifted concert pianist, composer, film and stage presence, radio and television raconteur, insult wit, and bestselling author, Levant steered a maniacally masochistic course through seven glorious decades. His death in 1972, at the age of 65, left the entertainment community shocked — largely with amazement that a four-pack-a-day smoker with a history of drug abuse and mental illness had lasted as long as Levant did. He made a national reputation for himself in the late '30s as a brash, brilliant 'expert' on radio's famed quiz show 'Information, Please!', and as a fine concert pianist and the premier interpreter of George Gershwin's concert works. He appeared in 13 films, usually as a best friend/'Oscar Levant' type. He played Gene Kelly's sidekick in 'An American in Paris' and a lovable hypochondriac in 'The Band Wagon,' and in the film biography 'Rhapsody in Blue,' he literally played himself: Oscar Levant, best friend to George Gershwin, a role he knew all too well.

His hero worship of Gershwin stunted his confidence as a songwriter and a serious composer, though one of his pop songs, 'Blame It on My Youth,' has become a standard, and Arnold Schoenberg, Aaron Copeland, and Virgil Thomson all thought Levant an immensely gifted composer. Levant's addiction to Demerol following a heart attack in the early '50s led to nearly a decade of drug dependency. Already hobbled by complex superstitions meant to ward off the terrors of performing, Levant was almost destroyed by his addictions. But his intense neurosis didn't keep him from appearing on television to talk about it. His uncensored comments on 'The Jack Paar Show' and on his own local Los Angeles talk show made national news. A Talent for Genius, the result of exhausting research and hundreds of hours of interviews, is a profoundly revelation.

Review:

"[Levant's] idiosyncratic character is brought to life in this objective and entertaining biography." Publishers Weekly

Book News Annotation:

Reprint of the story of the wildly self-destructive concert pianist, composer, film and stage presence, radio and television raconteur, insult wit, and bestselling authOR (booknews.com) The authors cover various aspects of his life and career, including his troubled friendship with George Gershwin and an account of how his second wife kept him alive through countless drug withdrawals and hospital interventions. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN:
9781879505391
Subtitle:
The Life and Times of Oscar Levant
Author:
Kashner, Sam
Author:
Schoenberger, Nancy
Publisher:
Libri
Location:
Los Angeles :
Subject:
General
Subject:
Biography
Subject:
Musicians
Subject:
Composers
Subject:
Composers, american
Subject:
Musicians -- United States -- Biography.
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1
Edition Description:
1st Silman-James Press ed.
Publication Date:
February 1998
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
8.95x6.01x1.37 in. 1.84 lbs.

Related Subjects

A Talent for Genius: The Life and Times of Oscar Levant
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Product details 512 pages Silman-James Press - English 9781879505391 Reviews:
"Review" by , "[Levant's] idiosyncratic character is brought to life in this objective and entertaining biography."
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