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Oscar Levant was a multitalented and versatile personality who excelled as a musician as well as a comedian and actor. Unfortunately, his versatility was the factor that masked his talent as a musician, leading to the perception of him as a jack of all trades. Music was his first love, and he had been taking music lessons since he was a child, as well as obtaining composition training from Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg. He formed a close acquaintance with pianist and composer George Gershwin, which helped him establish a Hollywood career. He composed music for a number of films and wrote or co-wrote a number of hit songs over the years. He became a regular panelist on the radio quiz show Information Please,’ where he wowed the audience with his witty banter and extensive musical knowledge. He established a humorous persona of a cynical and bitter man in addition to being a musician. He began acting in movies after performing comedy sketches. ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and ‘The Barkleys of Broadway’ are two of his big films. During his later years, the gifted artist had neurotic issues and was regularly admitted to mental facilities.

Childhood and Adolescence

In Russia, he was born into an orthodox Jewish household. Max was his father’s name.
From a young age, he received musical instruction. He began studying the Czerny piano method with Martin Miessler when he was seven years old. He could play Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin even as a tiny child.

He went to Fifth Avenue High School, where he met instructor Oscar Demmler, who pushed him to perform with him and took him to notable musicians’ recitals, including Stokowski’s.

After his father died in 1922, his mother took him to New York. He studied piano with Zygmunt Stojowski, a well-known pianist. He began performing at nightclubs and restaurants as a pianist.

The Career of Oscar

In 1929, he moved to Los Angeles and joined a group of composers and performers who were tasked with providing music for motion pictures. During this period, he met George Gershwin, who helped him establish himself as a pianist.

From 1929 through 1948, he composed music for almost 20 films. He also penned or co-wrote the lyrics for a number of songs that became great hits.

During the 1920s, he also dabbled on Broadway, appearing in the musical ‘Burlesque’ in 1927 and co-composing the music for ‘Ripples’ in 1930. In 1930, he composed the lyrics for the musical revue “Sweet and Low.”

In the 1930s, he began serious writing. He was working on his Sonatina for Piano when Aaron Copland, the great American composer, happened to hear it. The Levant accepted Copland’s invitation to perform at the Yaddo Festival of contemporary American music in April 1932.

In 1938, he made his Broadway debut as a conductor. Kaufman and Hart’s ‘The Fabulous Invalid’ received 65 performances before being followed by another Kaufman and Hart musical, ‘The American Way,’ in 1939.

In 1939, he performed the Concerto in F in front of 18,000 people at the second Gershwin Memorial Concert at Lewishohn Stadium. In the same year, he performed the Concerto in Pittsburgh under Fritz Reiner.

He became a regular panelist on the radio quiz show ‘Information Please’ in the late 1930s. Other panelists on the show included Franklin P. Adams and John Kieran. Levant’s in-depth music knowledge and amusing remarks delighted the audience during the 1940s.

He appeared in many films during the 1940s, including “Rhapsody in Blue” (1945), “You Were Meant for Me” (1948), and “The Barkleys of Broadway” (1949).

From 1947 to 1949, he was a regular on NBC radio’s ‘Kraft Music Hall,’ which also included Al Jolson. He entertained Al and the guests by performing his well-known songs and cracking jokes.

In 1951, he starred in the musical film ‘An American in Paris,’ which was based on a George Gershwin symphonic composition. Gene Kelly choreographed the dance moves in the film, and he also appeared in the picture.

From 1958 to 1960, he presented a syndicated television chat program called “The Oscar Levant Show.” He performed monologues as well as played the piano. Fred Astaire and Linus Pauling were among the guests on the show.

Oscar’s Major Projects

Oscar Levant was a superb composer and pianist who composed the music for more than 20 Hollywood films and performed in a number of concerts. He was also a popular radio personality and a stand-up comedian noted for his austere and sardonic on-screen character.

Personal history and legacy

He was married to actress Barbara Woodell for a short time.
In 1939, he married June Gale, a singer, and actress. They were married for 33 years and had three children before he died.

He was repeatedly sent to mental facilities due to mental problems such as neuroses and hypochondria. At the age of 65, he died of a heart attack in 1972.

Estimated Net worth

Oscar is one of the wealthiest pianists and one of the most well-known pianists. Oscar Levant’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.