Sam Levene

Active - 1936 - 1979  |   Born - Aug 28, 1905 in Russia  |   Died - Dec 28, 1980 in New York City, NY  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Crime, Mystery, Romance

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Adept at playing sardonic, side-of-the-mouth urban types, Sam Levene appeared in several top Broadway productions of the early 1930s. At 29 (though looking far older and worldlier), Levene was brought to Hollywood to re-create his stage role as a superstitious gambler in Three Men on a Horse (1936). Not long afterward, he made the first of two appearances as New York police lieutenant Abrams in MGM's Thin Man series. Since Levene always seemed to have just stepped out of a Damon Runyon story, it was only natural that he create the part of crapshooter deluxe Nathan Detroit in the 1950 Broadway production Guys and Dolls; his endearingly offkey renditions of the Frank Loesser tunes "Oldest Established" and "Sue Me" can still be heard on the original cast album. When he wasn't essaying dese-dem-and-dose roles, Levene was frequently cast as a soft-spoken, philosophical Jew in such films as Action in the North Atlantic (1943) and Crossfire (1947). Though he made 36 films in his 33-year Hollywood career, Sam Levene was always happiest in front of a live audience: one of his last Broadway appearances was in the original production of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys.

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