Image of Sam Levene

Sam Levene

Sam Levene was a Broadway, film, radio and television actor who in a career spanning 5 decades created some of the most legendary comedic roles in American theatrical history. Levene appeared in a staggering list of 38 Broadway productions, 33 of which were the original Broadway productions, including Nathan Detroit, the craps-shooter extraordinaire, in the 1950 original Broadway production of "Guys and Dolls", Max Kane, the hapless agent, in the original 1932 Broadway production of "Dinner at Eight", Patsy, the comedic gambler, in the 1935 Broadway farce "Three Men on a Horse" , Gordon Miller, the shoestring producer, in the original 1937 Broadway production of "Room Service", Sidney Black, the theatrical producer, in " Light Up the Sky" , Horace Vandergelder, the crotchety merchant of Yonkers, in the 1954 premier UK production of Thornton Wilder's "The Matchmaker" and Al Lewis, the retired vaudevillian, in the original 1972 Broadway production of Neil Simon's "The Sunshine Boys". Levene was a consistent presence on Broadway for 5 decades; Levene's first Broadway play was in 1927, the last in 1980. Throughout his career Levene effortlessly segued between starring roles in over 100 productions on stage, radio, television and film, appearing in a variety of roles, including policemen, servicemen, gamblers, gangsters, newspaper reporter, theatrical producer, actor's agent, dress manufacturer and even a psychiatrist and was equally adept in segueing from comedy to farce and drama. 9 years after making his Broadway debut, Levene was lured to Hollywood where he made his motion picture debut as Patsy in the 1936 film version of "Three Men on a Horse" earning $1,000 a week. Known as a dependable character actor, Levene appeared in 50 films, including 14 at MGM, which included two appearances as Police Lieutenant Abrams in the "Thin Man" series. During his five-decade Hollywood career, Levene established himself as one the great film noir stalwarts. Levene's film noir credits include his riveting performance as Samuels, the murdered GI, in "Crossfire" (1947), considered by many as one of RKO’s if not perhaps of any studio’s best film noirs. Other film noir credits include: William Holden's taxi-driving brother-in-law "Siggie" in "Golden Boy" (1939), "Action in the North Atlantic" (1943), a Doolittle Flyer and Japanese POW in "The Purple Heart" (1944), a police lieutenant in "The Killers" (1946), "Brute Force" (1947), "Boomerang" (1947), "Killer McCoy" (1947), "Dial 1119" (1950), "Sweet Smell of Success" (1957), "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" (1957). In 1961 Levene was nominated for the 1961 Tony Award for Best Actor in a play for his performance as Dr. Aldo Meyer in Dore Schary's "The Devil's Advocate". Levene never received a Tony; by the time the Tony's were established in 1947, Levene had already created roles in 16 original Broadway shows, including legendary performances in the original Broadway productions of "Dinner at Eight"(1932), "Three Men on a Horse" (1935), "Room Service" (1937) and "Margin For Error" (1939). In 1984, Levene was posthumously inducted in the American Theatre Hall of Fame and in 1998, Sam Levene along with the original Broadway cast of the 1950 "Guys and Dolls" Decca cast album posthumously inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

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Aug 28, 1905 In Russia
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie The Talk of Hollywood 1929-12-10
Latest Project:
Movie James Stewart's Wonderful Life 1988-11-22
Known For
Poster of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre
Poster of The Colgate Comedy Hour
Poster of Studio One
Poster of Yellow Jack
Movie James Stewart's Wonderful Life (archive footage) 1988-11-22
Movie Last Embrace Sam Urdell 1979-05-04
Movie ...And Justice for All Arnie 1979-10-19
Movie The Royal Family Oscar Wolfe 1977-11-09
Movie The Money Lou Maurice 1976-05-31
Movie God Told Me To Everett Lukas 1976-10-31
Movie Such Good Friends Uncle Eddie 1971-12-16
Movie A Dream of Kings Cicero 1969-01-01
Series Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Unknown 1963-10-04
Movie Act One Richard Maxwell 1963-12-26
Series The Merv Griffin Show Self 1962-10-01
Series The Aquanauts Unknown 1960-09-14
Movie The World of Sholom Aleichem Mendele 1959-12-14
Movie Kathy O' Ben Melnick 1958-09-24
Movie Designing Woman Ned Hammerstein 1957-05-16
Movie Sweet Smell of Success Frank D' Angelo 1957-07-04
Movie Slaughter on 10th Avenue Howard Rysdale 1957-09-01
Movie The Opposite Sex Mike Pearl 1956-11-15
Movie Three Sailors and a Girl Joe Woods 1953-11-23
Series Omnibus Unknown 1952-11-09
Movie Guilty Bystander Captain Tonetti 1950-04-20
Movie With These Hands Alexander Brody 1950-06-15
Movie Dial 1119 John D. Faron 1950-11-03
Series The Colgate Comedy Hour Unknown 1950-09-10
Movie The Babe Ruth Story Phil Conrad 1948-09-16
Series Studio One Unknown 1948-11-07
Movie Boomerang! Morning Record's Reporter Dave Woods 1947-02-28
Movie A Likely Story Lennie 1947-04-18
Movie Killer McCoy Happy 1947-12-01
Movie Brute Force Louie Miller #7033 1947-07-10
Movie Crossfire Samuels 1947-08-15
Movie The Killers Lt. Sam Lubinsky 1946-08-28
Movie The True Glory Commentator 1945-10-04
Movie The Purple Heart Lt. Wayne Greenbaum 1944-02-25
Movie Action in the North Atlantic Abel 'Chips' Abrams 1943-06-12
Movie I Dood It Ed Jackson 1943-09-01
Movie Shoe Shine Boy Lucky 1943-12-25
Movie Whistling in Brooklyn Creeper 1943-12-01
Movie Gung Ho! Leo 'Transport' Andreof 1943-12-20
Movie Grand Central Murder Inspector Gunther 1942-05-01
Movie Sing Your Worries Away Smiley Clark 1942-03-06
Movie The Big Street Horsethief 1942-08-13
Movie Sunday Punch Roscoe 1942-05-08
Movie Destination Unknown Victor, Elena's Aide 1942-10-09
Movie Married Bachelor Cookie Farrar 1941-10-16
Movie Shadow of the Thin Man Lieutenant Abrams 1941-11-21
Movie Golden Boy Siggie 1939-09-05
Movie Yellow Jack Busch 1938-05-19
Movie The Mad Miss Manton Lieutenant Brent 1938-10-21
Movie The Shopworn Angel 'Leer' 1938-07-15
Movie Three Men on a Horse Patsy 1936-11-21
Movie After the Thin Man Lt. Abrams 1936-12-25
Movie The Talk of Hollywood Film Buyer 1929-12-10