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Who Was Oscar Levant of Good Night, Oscar?

Playbill News

Broadway's got a new bio-play, Good Night, Oscar, written by Doug Wright and starring Will and Grace star and Tony nominee Sean Hayes as Oscar Levant. For those old enough to have been watching late night TV in the '50s and '60s, Levant is a treasured personality and musical genius—but no shame to any readers who might not know exactly who Levant was!

There's a good chance you'll remember Levant even if you don't necessarily know his name. His most memorable screen appearance was in 1951's An American Paris, which featured Levant as struggling pianist Adam Cook. The character is more-or-less a stand-in for George Gershwin, whose songs make up the film's soundtrack—and that makes Levant's casting especially apt. Just as Levant's career as a composer and pianist was getting started in the '20s and '30s, he met and befriended Gershwin himself. He would go on to become world renowned for his piano performances of Gershwin's works, particularly after Gershwin, himself a gifted ivory tickler, died tragically young in 1937.

His connection to Gershwin proved to be a trickier one later in Levant's life—as Good Night, Oscar delves into—but that doesn't make Levant's recordings of Gershwin's compositions any less vital...READ MORE

Author: Logan Culwell-Block


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