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A Talent for Genius: The Life and Times of Oscar Levant
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A Talent for Genius: The Life and Times of Oscar Levant

4.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  55 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
Oscar Levant was the Amadeus of Hollywood, the Oscar Wilde of Broadway -- and the most wildly self-destructive personality ever to become a household name. An astonishingly gifted concert pianist, composer, film and stage presence, radio and television raconteur, insult wit, and bestselling author, Levant steered a maniacally masochistic course through seven glorious decad ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published December 3rd 2005 by Silman-James Press (first published May 17th 1994)
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Lisa
Feb 10, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing
One of the best biographies I've ever read: thorough, balanced, and compelling. I have always loved Oscar Levant, and this work does him justice.
Joy H.
Added 9/6/09. Read in January 2016.
It took me over six years to get around to reading this book. I'm glad that I had saved it on my "To Read" shelf. I re-discovered it while I was looking around for something to read.

This is a compelling biography about pianist, wit, and performer, Oscar Levant. He suffered from many anxieties which prevented him from fulfilling all his potential but, as the bio shows, he was quite an accomplished musician, performer and wit. He's noted for his witticisms and th
...more
Sarah
Feb 22, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
I first learned of Oscar Levant in Harpo Speaks!, which led to me reading Oscar's first book, A Smattering of Ignorance (one of the greatest titles ever, by the way). After all of this, I was totally intrigued by the man, and so immediately checked A Talent for Genius out of the library.

It's a well-written and engrossing biography about a fascinating figure, written with a good deal of empathy. It can be hard to find a well-balanced biography- I find that they are often either hostile or defensi
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Richard
Sep 05, 2009 Richard rated it really liked it
Oscar Levant's Biography is a great read on a great "man about town."

Quotes:
Behind the phony tinsel of Hollywood lies the real tinsel.
I am no more humble than my talents require.
I can remember Doris Day before she was a virgin.
I don't drink. I don't like it. It makes me feel good.
I envy people who drink - at least they know what to blame everything on.
I think a lot of Bernstein - but not as much as he does.
I'm a study of a man in chaos in search of frenzy.
Schizophrenia beats dining alone.
There i
...more
Susan Emmet
Mar 16, 2015 Susan Emmet rated it it was amazing
I'm nearly 66 and I well remember talk and talk about Oscar Levant while we lived in New York.
The way he grew up, the burdens he bore,the messes he created, the people with whom he lived and partied, the hopes and dreams and travels and travails, the music he played and wrote and orchestrated, his presence on TV and radio and in movies, his devotion and obsessions and addictions and recoveries and the scope of Kashner's and Schoenberger's research - amazing and riveting.
My father often said he
...more
Tosh
Jan 28, 2008 Tosh rated it it was amazing
A great biography on the 'Oscar Wilde' of Broadway/Manhattan. The pil addicted wit had a sharp mouth as well as being a talented piano player. Famous for going over to new friend Harpo Marx's house for dinner and not leaving for months, sounded like a nightmare of a man to know - yet hysterical. Everything said outside his mouth was quotable and he was truly one-of-a-kind figure in the showbiz world of Broadway and Hollywood.
John P
Oct 29, 2009 John P rated it really liked it
A raw portrait of a troubled near-genius musician. I found it riveting.
James
Jul 23, 2012 James rated it it was amazing
An amazing biography of the tortured Levant. Funny and sad.
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