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Author Ira Levin wrote some of the gripping novels of the 1960s and 1970s, including Rosemary's Baby and The Boys from Brazil.
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A successful novelist and playwright, Ira Levin was born in New York City on August 27, 1929. Initially a television writer, he became a best-selling author with his first novel, 1953's A Kiss Before Dying. More thrilling works followed, including 1968's Rosemary's Baby and 1976's The Boys from Brazil, which were later turned into feature films.
Author Ira Marvin Levin was born on August 27, 1929, in New York, New York. He was expected to follow his father into the toy business. A teenage Levin had other ideas, however. He wanted to be a writer. In his senior year of college, Levin entered a television screenwriting contest. He was only a runner-up, but he was later able to sell his entry to the NBC television network for its Lights Out series. The episode aired in 1951.
While writing for such shows as Lights Out and The U.S. Steel Hour, Levin worked on his first novel. He published his murder mystery, A Kiss Before Dying, in 1953, which quickly brought him commercial success and critical praise. The novel won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel the following year.
The mystery is told in three parts, from the perspective of murderous schemer Bud Corliss and the two sisters of his first victim. In 1956, A Kiss Before Dying became a feature film starring Robert Wagner, Virginia Leith, Joanne Woodward and Mary Astor. A 1991 revised remake starred Matt Dillon as Corliss and Sean Young as twin sisters who get involved with him.
Levin served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps from 1953 to 1955. After being discharged, he spent much of his time devoted to the theater. Levin enjoyed some success with his adaptation of Mac Hyman's humorous novel No Time for Sergeants, about a military recruit from the country. The Broadway production featured Andy Griffith and Don Knotts.
His own original works, however, floundered at first. The 1958 mystery Interlock came and went without much notice. His comedy Critic's Choice fared a bit better, running for about six months. Directed by Otto Preminger, the play featured Henry Fonda as a theater critic and Georgann Johnson as his playwright wife.
Perhaps one of his greatest disappointments may have been the 1965 musical Drat! That Cat!, a comedy about a thief. Not only did he write the book for the play, but he also wrote all the lyrics for the music. The show ran for only a few performances before it closed. This failure did not deter Levin. He returned with another play, the mystery Dr. Cook's Garden, two years later.
In 1967, Levin published what is arguably his best-known novel, Rosemary's Baby. The horrifying tale tells the story of Rosemary Woodhouse, a young wife in New York City who may be pregnant with the devil's child. With strange occurrences happening in her apartment building, Woodhouse doesn't know who to trust, including her own husband. She uncovers a satanic coven in her building—a coven with sinister designs on her unborn child.
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