OSCAR LEVANT

15 December 2009

[Picture of Oscar Levant at Piano - An American in Paris]I have been a fan of Oscar since the late 1960s, and I find it sad and strange that he’s not better remembered.

He did the music for zillions of films, wrote tonnes of hit records, was a pal of Jolson and Gershwin and a star pupil of Shoenberg.

So many of my favourite “celebrities” (for want of a better term), are famed for quick wittedness on radio and TV — especially game shows and talk shows.

That is probably what made Levant so famous in his day.

Recent events with Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross made me recall Levant’s remarks about Marilyn Monroe that got his show taken off air — it was about her famous conversion to Judaism.  Levant wise-cracked, ‘Now that Marilyn Monroe is kosher, Arthur Miller can eat her!’.

He later said that he ‘hadn’t meant it “that way”‘! Sublime. His show eventually got axed for being too controversial.  This guy was cutting edge… back in the 50s and 60s.

[Picture of Groucho Marx Al Jolson and Oscar Levant 1948]

He is incredibly well-quoted in tear-off calendars, here’s a wee selection of ones you might have heard and admired:

  • I have one thing to say about psychoanalysis: fuck Dr Freud.
  • Everyone in Hollywood is gay, except Gabby Hayes — and that’s because he is a transvestite.
  • Strip away the false tinsel from Hollywood, and you find the real tinsel inside.
  • So little time and so little to do…
  • What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left.
  • I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin.
  • I used to call Audrey Hepburn a walking X-ray.
  • Happiness isn’t something you experience; it’s something you remember.
  • I’m going to memorize your name and throw my head away.
  • I envy people who drink — at least they know what to blame everything on.
  • A pun is the lowest form of humour — when you don’t think of it first.
  • Every time I look at you I get a fierce desire to be lonesome.
  • I have given up reading books; I find it takes my mind off myself.
  • Schizophrenia beats dining alone.
  • There are two sides to every question: my side and the wrong side.
  • Underneath this flabby exterior is an enormous lack of character.
    and my favourite:
  • A politician is a man who will double cross that bridge when he comes to it.

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One Response to “OSCAR LEVANT”

  1. villabourani Says:

    Hi, I love Oscar too, have just written a post on him in my blog:

    http://www.villabourani.wordpress.com


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