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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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The success of Rosemary's Baby triggered a wave of satanic-themed horror movies. The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976) also enjoyed great popularity with moviegoers. Levin,
however, sought out other genres.
Levin continued to thrive as a novelist with such best-selling works as The Stepford Wives (1972) and The Boys from Brazil (1976). In The Stepford Wives, he explored a disturbing suburban town where wives have been replaced by androids. Again working with fantasy, Levin imagined that Dr. Josef Mengele, a Nazi who experimented on concentration camp victims, tries to bring the Third Reich back to power in The Boys from Brazil. The book explores the way-ahead-of-its-time issue of cloning.
Both novels ignited the imagination of Hollywood. Katharine Ross starred as a new arrival to the town of Stepford in The Stepford Wives (1975), a role later played by Nicole Kidman in the 2004 remake. A Nazi hunter played by Laurence Olivier tries to foil Dr. Mengele's (Gregory Peck) plot in the 1978 film version of The Boys from Brazil.
That same year, Levin experienced his greatest theatrical triumph. The comedic mystery Deathtrap opened on Broadway, and it became a smash hit. Levin successfully fused humor and clever plot twists in this tale about a washed-up writer who plans to kill another for his play. Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve starred in the 1982 film.
Never a prolific writer, Levin wrote only two more novels during his lifetime. Sliver (1991) told the story of a woman being watched by the owner of her high-tech apartment building, and was later turned into a movie starring Sharon Stone. In 1998, Levin tried to capitalize on his earlier success with Son of Rosemary: The Sequel to Rosemary's Baby, but it didn't capture readers' interest as much as the original.
Levin died at the age of 78 of a heart attack on November 12, 2007, in his New York City apartment. Even after his death, his books have remained popular. In 2010 Corsair Publishing reissued several of his novels in paperback, including Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives.
Levin had three sons, Adam, Jared and Nicholas, during his first marriage, to Gabrielle Aronsohn. After that union ended, Levin married Phyllis Finkel; they later divorced.
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