Levenson, Sam(uel)

views updated


LEVENSON, SAM (UEL ) (1911–1980), U.S. humorist. Born in Russia, Levinson was a high school teacher from 1934 to 1946 in Brooklyn. Subsequently he gained a reputation as a humorist reciting stories about his childhood on New York's Lower East Side. He was particularly popular in the Catskill Mountains ("the Borscht Belt") and Miami Beach. He also gave comic lectures to a variety of schools and social groups. In 1949 he appeared on the Ed Sullivan television show Toast of the Town and became widely known for his folksy humor. Levenson was one of the first comedians to fill his stand-up act with heartwarming anecdotes and homespun stories of neighborhood life. A frequent guest on the Sullivan show, he also appeared on many panel-game shows, such as To Tell the Truth and What's My Line? In the 1950s and 1960s he hosted The Price Is Right, The Sam Levenson Show, This Is Show Business, Two for the Money, Masquerade Party, and Celebrity Talent Scouts. In 1971 he made four appearances on the highly rated late-night talk show The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

His book Everything but Money (1966) describes his experiences growing up in New York. He also wrote Meet the Folks (1948), Sex and the Single Child (1969), In One Era and Out the Other (1973), You Can Say That Again, Sam! (1975), and You Don't Have to Be in Who's Who to Know What's What (1979).

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]