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

Sam Kashner, Author, Nancy Schoenberger, With Villard Books $28 (512p) ISBN 978-0-679-40489-7
A composer, concert pianist, film actor and radio and TV personality, Levant (1906-1972) was best known for his musical virtuosity and caustic wit. His idiosyncratic character is brought to life in this objective and entertaining biography by Schoenberger and Kashner, who are married and teach creative writing at William and Mary College in Virginia. Levant was a close friend to composer George Gershwin, and neglected his own compositions in favor of performing Gershwin's music. (After Gershwin's death in 1937, Levant appeared in Rhapsody in Blue , the Hollywood version of Gershwin's life.) His other film apearances included parts in Humoresque (1947) and An American in Paris (1951), in both of which he honed a persona as a neurotic and cynical musician. Drawing on interviews and letters, Kashner and Schoenberger carefully document Levant's emotional problems, which eventually led to a drug addiction that prevented him from performing and nearly ended his marriage to actress June Gale. Photos not seen by PW. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/02/1994
Release date: 05/01/1994
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-1-879505-39-1
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