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OSCAR LEVANT COLLECTION

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OLD TIME RADIO - 4 CD-ROM - 177 mp3 - Total Playtime: 85:06:53

Oscar Levant (December 27, 1906 – August 14, 1972) was an American pianist, composer, author, comedian, and actor. He was as famous for his mordant character and witticisms, on the radio and in movies and television, as for his music.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1906 to an Orthodox Jewish family from Russia, Levant moved to New York in 1922, following the death of his father, Max. He began studying under Zygmunt Stojowski, a well-established piano pedagogue. In 1924, aged 18, he appeared with Ben Bernie in a short film, Ben Bernie and All the Lads, made in New York City in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film system.

In 1928, Levant traveled to Hollywood where his career took a turn for the better. During his stay, he met and befriended George Gershwin. From 1929 to 1948 he composed the music for more than twenty movies. During this period, he also wrote or co-wrote numerous popular songs that made the Hit Parade, the most noteworthy being "Blame It on My Youth" (1934), now considered a standard.

Around 1932, Levant began composing seriously. He studied under Arnold Schoenberg and impressed him sufficiently to be offered an assistantship (which he turned down, considering himself unqualified). His formal studies led to a request by Aaron Copland to play at the Yaddo Festival of contemporary American music on April 30 of that year. Successful, Levant began composing a new orchestral work, a sinfonietta. He married actress Barbara Woodell; they divorced in 1932.

In 1939, Levant married for the second time, to singer and actress June Gale (née Doris Gilmartin; June 6, 1911 – November 13, 1996), one of the Gale Sisters. Oscar and June were married for 33 years, until his death in 1972. They had three children: Marcia, Lorna, and Amanda.

At this time, Levant was perhaps best known to American audiences as one of the regular panelists on the radio quiz show Information Please. Originally scheduled as a guest panelist, Levant proved so quick-witted and popular that he became a regular fixture on the show in the late 1930s and 1940s, along with fellow panelists Franklin P. Adams and John Kieran, and moderator Clifton Fadiman. "Mr. Levant", as he was always called, was often challenged with musical questions, and he impressed audiences with his depth of knowledge and facility with a joke. Kieran praised Levant as having a "positive genius for making offhand cutting remarks that couldn't have been sharper if he'd honed them a week in his mind. Oscar was always good for a bright response edged with acid".

In 1942, Levant premiered and recorded a one-movement piano concerto he had composed, accompanied by the NBC Symphony Orchestra.

From 1947 to 1949, Levant regularly appeared on NBC radio's Kraft Music Hall, starring Al Jolson. He not only accompanied singer Jolson on the piano with classical and popular songs, but often joked and ad-libbed with Jolson and his guests. This included comedy sketches. The pairing of the two entertainers was inspired. Their individual ties to George Gershwin -- Jolson introduced Gershwin's "Swanee" -- undoubtedly had much to do with their rapport. Both Levant and Jolson appeared as themselves in the Gershwin biopic Rhapsody in Blue (1945).

He also had a career as an actor, appearing in movies like Rhapsody in Blue (1945), The Barkleys of Broadway (1949) and An American in Paris (1951) where he was able to play original songs as well as deliver wise-cracks to Gene Kelly.
In the early 1950s, Levant was an occasional panelist on the NBC game show, Who Said That?, in which celebrities would try to determine the speaker of quotations taken from recent news reports.

Between 1958 and 1960, Levant hosted a television talk show on KCOP-TV in Los Angeles, The Oscar Levant Show, which later became syndicated. It featured his piano playing along with monologues and interviews with top-name guests such as Fred Astaire and Linus Pauling. A full recording of only two shows is known to exist, one with Astaire, who paid to have a kinescope recording of the broadcast made, so that he could assess his performance. This is likely the only Astaire performance to have imperfections, as it was live, and Levant would repeatedly change the tempo of his accompaniment to Astaire's singing during the bridges between verses, which appeared to get him quite off balance at first. He did not dance, as the studio space was extremely small.

The show was highly controversial, eventually being taken from the air after a comment about Marilyn Monroe's conversion to Judaism: "Now that Marilyn Monroe is kosher, Arthur Miller can eat her". He later stated that he "hadn't meant it that way". Several months later, the show began to be broadcast in a slightly revised format—it was taped in order to provide a buffer for Levant's antics. This, however, failed to prevent Levant from making comments about Mae West's sex life that caused the show to be canceled for good. Levant was also a frequent guest on Jack Paar's talk show, prompting Paar in later years to sign off by saying, "Good night, Oscar Levant, wherever you are." On an appearance on The Tonight Show, from New York, Levant once quipped that his Jaguar ambulance was waiting outside for him.

The 1920s and 1930s wit Alexander Woollcott, a member of the Algonquin Round Table, once said of him: "There isn't anything the matter with Levant that a few miracles wouldn't cure."

Open about his neuroses and hypochondria, in later life Levant became addicted to prescription drugs and was frequently committed to mental hospitals by his wife. Despite his afflictions, Levant was considered a genius by some, in many areas. (He himself wisecracked "There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.")
Levant withdrew increasingly from the limelight in his later years. He died in Beverly Hills, California, of a heart attack at the age of 65. His death was discovered by his wife when she went to get him from their bedroom to sit for an interview with Candice Bergen, a photo-journalist at the time. Levant was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. In their routines, some comics have claimed, apocryphally, and citing an old joke, that hypochondriac Levant's epitaph is inscribed, "I told them I was ill."
 

EPISODES LIST

DISC 1
Bell Telephone Hour 440918 098 Oscar Levant
Bing Crosby Show 48-11-10 Oscar Levant
Command Performance - 42-03-29 - George Jessel, Connie Boswell, Oscar Levant - Copy
Fred Allen - Fred Allen Show 46-06-23 (076) 50th Anniversary of the Telephone Company
Fred Allen 43-01-31 018 Oscar Levant
Fred Allen 44-04-23 059 Oscar Levant - South Dakota
Fred Allen 46-06-23 037 50th Anniversary Of The Telephone Company guest Oscar Levant
Guest Star 48-05-02 Al Jolson
It's Time To Smile 41-04-02 (027) Guest - Oscar Levant
Jack Benny Program 43-01-17 (465) Spoof on Information Please
Kraft Music Hall 47-10-02 First Song - Sonny Boy, Guest - Edgar Bergen
Kraft Music Hall 47-10-16 First Song - For Me And My Gal, Guest - Bing Crosby
Kraft Music Hall 47-10-23 First Song - I'm Sitting On Top Of The World, Guest - Groucho Marx
Kraft Music Hall 47-10-30 First Song - Almost Like Being In Love, Guest - William Bendix
Kraft Music Hall 47-11-06 First Song - Golden Gate, Guest - Humphrey Bogart
Kraft Music Hall 47-11-13 First Song - A Fella Needs A Girl, Guest - Victor Moore
Kraft Music Hall 47-11-20 First Song - Hello, 'Tucky, Hello, Guest - Charles Boyer
Kraft Music Hall 47-11-27 First Song - California, Here I Come, Guest - Dorothy Lamour
Kraft Music Hall 47-12-04 First Song - There's A Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder
Kraft Music Hall 47-12-18 First Song - Swanee, Guest - Jimmy Durante
Kraft Music Hall 47-12-25 First Song - Is It True What They Say About Dixie, Guest - Boris Karloff
Kraft Music Hall 48-01-01 First Song - Avalon, Guest - Madeleine Carroll
Kraft Music Hall 48-01-08 First Song - Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go, Guest - William Powell
Kraft Music Hall 48-01-15 First Song - Toot Toot Tootsie, Guest - Bing Crosby
Kraft Music Hall 48-01-22 First Song - Yacka Hula, Hickey Dula, Guest - Lucille Ball
Kraft Music Hall 48-01-29 First Song - Alabamy Bound, Guest - Walter O'Keefe
Kraft Music Hall 48-02-05 First Song - I'm Just Wild About Harry, Guest - Ed Gardner
Kraft Music Hall 48-02-12 First Song - For Me And My Gal, Guest - Charles Laughton
Kraft Music Hall 48-02-19 First Song - I'm Sitting On Top Of The World, Guest - Charles Boyer
Kraft Music Hall 48-02-26 First Song - Chicago, Guest - David Niven
Kraft Music Hall 48-03-04 First Song - Yacka Hula, Hickey Dula, Guest - Cary Grant
Kraft Music Hall 48-03-11 First Song - I'm Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover
Kraft Music Hall 48-03-18 First Song - Margie, Guest - Edward G. Robinson
Kraft Music Hall 48-03-25 First Song - Baby Face, Guest - Clifton Webb
Kraft Music Hall 48-04-01 First Song - She's A Latin From Manhattan, Guest - Jimmy Durante
Kraft Music Hall 48-04-08 First Song - I'm Just Wild About Harry, Guest - Vera Vague
Kraft Music Hall 48-04-22 First Song - Alexander's Ragtime Band, Guest - Dorothy Kirsten
Kraft Music Hall 48-05-13 First Song - Baby Face, Guest - Dorothy Kirsten
Kraft Music Hall 48-05-20 First Song - April Showers, Guest - Henry Morgan
Kraft Music Hall 48-06-03 First Song - When The Red-Red-Robin

DISC 2
Kraft Music Hall 48-06-10 First Song - Alexander's Ragtime Band, Guest - Dorothy Kirsten
Kraft Music Hall 48-09-30 First Song - Is It True What They Say About Dixie
Kraft Music Hall 48-10-07 First Song - Baby Face, Guest - Edward G. Robinson
Kraft Music Hall 48-10-14 First Song - Just One Of Those Things, Guest - Ezio Pinza
Kraft Music Hall 48-10-21 First Song - For Me And My Gal
Kraft Music Hall 48-10-28 First Song - I'm Just Wild About Harry, Guest - Dorothy Kirsten
Kraft Music Hall 48-11-04 First Song - Swanee, Guest - George Burns and Gracie Allen
Kraft Music Hall 48-11-11 First Song - Bright Eyes, Guest - George Jessel
Kraft Music Hall 48-11-18 First Song - Bright Eyes, Guest - Groucho Marx
Kraft Music Hall 48-11-25 First Song - That Certain Party, Guest - Victor Mature
Kraft Music Hall 48-12-02 First Song - When The Red-Red-Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along
Kraft Music Hall 48-12-09 First Song - Ma! She's Making Eyes At Me, Guest - Dennis Day
Kraft Music Hall 48-12-16 First Song - I'm Sitting On Top Of The World, Guest - Dinah Shore
Kraft Music Hall 48-12-23 First Song - Is It True What They Say About Dixie
Kraft Music Hall 48-12-30 First Song - Smile, Guest - Doris Day
Kraft Music Hall 49-01-06 First Song - Yacka Hula, Hickey Dula, Guest - Larry Parks
Kraft Music Hall 49-01-13 First Song - That Certain Party, Guest - Groucho Marx
Kraft Music Hall 49-01-20 First Song - I'm Just Wild About Harry, Guest - Victor Moore
Kraft Music Hall 49-01-27 First Song - When The Red-Red-Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along
Kraft Music Hall 49-02-03 First Song - Hello, 'Tucky, Hello, Guest - Dennis Day
Kraft Music Hall 49-02-10 First Song - Oh, You Beautiful Doll, Guest - Peggy Lee
Kraft Music Hall 49-02-17 First Song - Hello, My Baby, Guest - Joan Davis
Kraft Music Hall 49-02-24 First Song - Bright Eyes, Guest - The Andrews Sisters
Kraft Music Hall 49-03-03 First Song - Waiting For The Robert E. Lee
Kraft Music Hall 49-03-04
Kraft Music Hall 49-03-10 First Song - After You've Gone, Guest - Jimmy Durante
Kraft Music Hall 49-03-17 First Song - At Sundown, Guest - Roy Rogers and Dale Evans
Kraft Music Hall 49-03-24 First Song - Chinatown, My Chinatown, Guest - George Jessel
Kraft Music Hall 49-04-07 First Song - When The Red-Red-Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along
Kraft Music Hall 49-04-14 First Song - Give My Regards To Broadway
Kraft Music Hall 49-04-21 First Song - Ma! She's Making Eyes At Me, Guest - Jimmy Durante
Kraft Music Hall 49-04-28 First Song - Swanee, Guest - Doris Day
Kraft Music Hall 49-05-05 First Song - California, Here I Come, Guest - Dennis Day
Kraft Music Hall 49-05-12 First Song - Melancholy Baby, Guest - Victor Moore
Kraft Music Hall 49-05-19 First Song - Look For The Silver Lining
Kraft Music Hall 49-05-26 First Song - Waiting For The Robert E. Lee, Guest - Groucho Marx
Philco Radio Time - 48-02-11 Oscar Levant
Philco Radio Time - 48-11-10 Oscar Levant
Radio Hall of Fame 45-11-11 Honoring Oscar Levant

DISC 3
Information Please 38-06-21 (006) Guest - Oscar Levant
Information Please 38-07-05 (008) Guest - Oscar Levant
Information Please 38-07-26 (011) Guest - Oscar Levant, John Gunther
Information Please 38-08-09 (013) Guest - Alton Cook, Alice Dever Miller
Information Please 38-09-13 (018) Guest - Percy Waxman
Information Please 38-10-11 (022) Guest - Lillian Gish
Information Please 38-11-15 (027) Guest - John Gunther
Information Please 38-11-29 (029) Guest - Kathleen Norris
Information Please 38-12-27 (033) Guest - William Lyon Phelps, Yale Professor
Information Please 39-01-10 (035) Guest - Alxander Wolcott
Information Please 39-01-24 (037) Guest - General Hugh Johnson
Information Please 39-02-07 (039) Guest - University of Michigan Student - Myron Wallace
Information Please 39-02-21 (041) Guest - Moe Berg
Information Please 39-03-21 (046) Guest - John Gunther
Information Please 39-04-18 (050) Guest - H V Kaltenborn
Information Please 39-05-16 (054) Guest - John P Marquand
Information Please 39-05-30 (056) Guest - Stanley Walker
Information Please 39-06-13 (058) Guest - Helen Wills Moody
Information Please 39-06-27 (060) Guest - Wilber Cross
Information Please 39-07-11 (062) Guest - Elliot Roosevelt
Information Please 39-07-25 (064) Guest - Maury Maverick
Information Please 39-08-22 (068) Guest - H Napier Moore
Information Please 39-09-05 (070) Guest - Raymond Graham Swing
Information Please 39-09-19 (072) Guest - P Cal Simms
Information Please 39-10-03 (074) Guest - Dean C Mildred Thompson of Vasser College
Information Please 39-10-31 (078) Guest - Carl Sandberg
Information Please 39-11-14 (080) Guest - James Farley
Information Please 39-12-12 (084) Guest - Walter B Pitkin
Information Please 40-08-20 (120) Guest Walter Wanger
Information Please 40-09-03 (122) Guest Henry Beedle Hough
Information Please 40-09-17 (124) Guest Otto Tallicious
Information Please 40-09-24 (125) Guest - Alva Johnson, Marc Connolly
Information Please 40-10-01 (126) Guest - Clair Boothe
Information Please 40-10-15 (128) Guest Louis Hacker
Information Please 40-11-05 (131) Guest - Christopher Morley
Information Please 40-11-15 (132) Guest - Fred Allen
Information Please 40-11-29 (134) Guest - Leon Henderson
Information Please 40-12-13 (136) Guest - Professor Ernest Albert Hooton
Information Please 40-12-27 (138) Walter Edmonds
Information Please 41-01-17 (141) Owen Davis
Information Please 41-02-28 (147) John O'Hara, Deems Taylor
Information Please 41-03-14 (149) Claude Wickard
Information Please 41-03-28 (151) Guest - Elsa Lanchester
Information Please 41-04-11 (153) Guest - Philip Merivale
Information Please 41-04-25 (155) Paul Lukas
Information Please 41-05-09 (157) Gene Tunney
Information Please 41-05-23 (159) Third Anniversary Show
Information Please 41-06-06 (161) Guest - Sally Benson
Information Please 41-06-13 (162) William Tilden

DISC 4
Information Please 41-06-27 (164) Guest - Alfred Hitchcock
Information Please 41-07-11 (166) Guest - Mary Boland
Information Please 41-08-08 (170) Guest - Larry Macphale
Information Please 41-09-05 (174) Guest - Deems Taylor
Information Please 41-09-19 (176) Guest - Stephen Vincent Bonet
Information Please 41-10-03 (178) Guest - Lefty Gomez, Mayor Fiorellio Laguardia
Information Please 41-10-17 (180) Guest - Fred Allen
Information Please 41-11-07 (183) Guest - Douglas Miller
Information Please 41-11-21 (185) Guest - Cornelia Otis Skinner
Information Please 41-11-28 (186) Guest - Drew Pearson, Robert Allen
Information Please 41-12-12 (188) Dr George N Shuster
Information Please 42-02-27 (199) Guest - Emil Ludwig
Information Please 42-03-27 (203) Guest - Wallace R Deuel
Information Please 42-04-17 (206) Grantland Rice
Information Please 42-05-29 (212) Wallace R Dual
Information Please 42-07-14 (219) Guest - Wallace R Deuel
Information Please 42-08-14 (223) Guest - Dr Mildred McAfee
Information Please 42-08-28 (225) Quincy Howe
Information Please 42-09-25 (229) Guest - Leon Henderson
Information Please 42-10-09 (231) Gregory Ratoff
Information Please 42-11-06 (235) Hanson W Baldwin
Information Please 42-11-20 (237) Louie Bromfield
Information Please 42-12-04 (239) Senator Henry Cabot Lodge Jr, Governor Leverett Saltenstahl
Information Please 42-12-18 (241) Guest - Ilka Chase
Information Please 43-01-01 (243) Gregory Ratoff
Information Please 43-01-08 (244) Will Rogers, Jr
Information Please 43-01-22 (246) Guest - Alfred Hitchcock
Information Please 43-02-05 (248) Guest - Jan Struther
Information Please 43-02-15 (249) Guest - Fred Allen
Information Please 43-03-01 (251) Guest - Will Rogers, Jr
Information Please 43-03-08 (252) Guest - Gregory Ratoff
Information Please 43-03-29 (255) Guest - Colonel Carlos Romules
Information Please 43-04-12 (257) Guest - Wendell Willkie
Information Please 43-04-26 (259) Guest - Leon Henderson
Information Please 43-05-10 (261) Guest - George V Denny, Jr
Information Please 43-05-31 (264) Guest - Sir Thomas Beecham
Information Please 43-06-14 (266) Guest - George Saunders
Information Please 43-06-28 (268) Guest - Walter Yust
Information Please 43-07-12 (270) Guest - Jan Struther
Information Please 43-09-20 (272) Guest - Clair Booth Luce
Information Please 43-09-27 (273) Guest - James W Fulbright
Information Please 43-11-01 (278) Guest - Bette Smith
Information Please 43-11-15 (280) Guest - Gregory Ratoff
Information Please 43-11-29 (282) Guest - Artur Rubenstein
Information Please 43-12-20 (285) Guest - Jesse Stewart, Oscar Levant
Information Please 44-01-03 (287) Guest - Louis Bromfield
Information Please 44-01-17 (289) Guest - John P Marquand
Information Please 44-02-28 (295) Guest - Franchot Tone
Information Please 44-06-12 (310) Guest - Admiral Emory Land
 

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  • Model: OTR-4CD-OscarLevant
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This product was added to our catalog on Sunday 14 July, 2013.

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