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Overview for Sam Levene
Sam Levene

Sam Levene



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Also Known As: Died: December 26, 1980
Born: August 28, 1905 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: Cast ... actor


Sam Levene became an actor because he wanted to prove that he had enough poise to be a salesman. To hone his skills, the dress-cutter auditioned at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts--and got a scholarship. He made his Broadway debut in 1927 and, within a decade, was recreating his roles on the silver screen. Building his reputation as a screen heavy, Levene landed the part of Lieutenant Abrams in "After the Thin Man," the second outing of Dashiell Hammett's investigatory lovebirds, and reappeared in their fourth film, "Shadow of the Thin Man." He proved to be a mainstay of crime dramas, and appeared frequently with Burt Lancaster. They worked together in such classics as "The Killers," the stunning expansion of a story by Ernest Hemingway; the prison thriller "Brute Force"; and "Sweet Smell of Success," which probed yellow journalism's seedy underbelly. But Levene continued to work on stage, where he created the legendary role of Nathan Detroit, the gambler-hero of "Guys and Dolls." Despite having a singing voice so poor that his big number was written in a single octave, his performance was so well-regarded that, when Frank Sinatra nabbed the role in the movie version, there were doubts that he'd live up to Levene. The would-be salesman also played a washed-up vaudevillian in Neil Simon's Broadway hit "The Sunshine Boys," and made his final screen appearance in "...And Justice for All," a courtroom drama starring Al Pacino.


Holz ( 2007-10-12 )


Appeared in a number of Three Stooges shorts such as "We Want Our Mummy"

SamLevene ( 2011-02-11 )

Source: not available

For his 1927 Broadway debut, Sam Levene accepted a part with five lines and relished each one he recalled to Emmanuel Azenburg, at the 40th Year Broadway Celebration he was given during the 1967 Broadway production of The Impossible Years, a play in which he starred as Dr. Sidney Kingsley in the play written by Arthur Marx, in a role he played over a 3 year period both on Broadway and during the plays National Tour. A recognized Broadway Star and comedian for much of his 50 year theatrical career, Sam Levene is remembered by many for his legendary roles, none of which ever got him a Tony Award. Sam Levene created so many legendary roles in the American theater that are so sharply etched, that many joke, he has created multiple Tony Award winning roles that have been won by multiple actors when others have played in revivals of the many shows he had originally created. Although nominated for a Tony for his dramatic role in Heartbreak House for his good friend Dore Schary, Sam Levene never won a Tony. He would tell most he did not care, but I could tell he was disappointed and so was I, as the Tony Committee never reversed this gross oversite for this Broadway legend who had appeared in Broadway Shows for the twenty years prior to when the Tony's were created in 1946, and Levene was never made eligible nor was the oversite reversed. Mr. Levene, is best known for creating the role of Nathan Detroit in Frank Loesser's in Guys and Dolls, written by Abe Burrows and directed by George S. Kaufman, even though he could not sing a single solitary note, ever. Yet Levene's performance has become so iconic and legendary that hardly a review of the revival of the show can be complete without a comparison to Sam Levene's legendary Broadway performance of Nathan Detroit. Yet Robert Alda was nominated for the Tony and Sam Levene was not! Mr Levene's was so convincing as Nathan Detroit, that even though he cannot sing a note, his face and likeness is featured on the Original Broadway Recording, and his characterization is so authentic and appreciated it has the stregth to break multiple hearts to those that listen, even to this day, when you hear him tell Vivian Blaine to "Sue Me". In fact, his performance has become so classic that when David Denby’s NY Magazine review of Woody Allen’s “Everyone Says I Love You”, he mentioned Sam Levene, playing Nathan Detroit in the original Guys & Dolls. Denby stated Levene “couldn’t sing a note, but his gruff, toneless outbursts could break your heart. Levene was not cautious, and that made all the difference.” In 1976, in a letter to NY Magazine, Joseph K. Levene wrote about his Father, “There were no Tony’s in Sam Levene’s career, but thanks for the “Denby”.

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