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Sam Levene was born in Russia, but came to the United States when he was two years old. He grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1923 and aspired to be a physician. He was a Broadway and film actor who in a career spanning more than five decades created some of the most legendary comedic roles in American theatrical history, including Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls (1950), Max Kane in Dinner at Eight (1932), Patsy in Three Men on a Horse (1935), Gordon Miller in Room Service (1937), Sidney Black in Light Up the Sky (1948), Horace Vandergelder in The Matchmaker (1954), and Al Lewis in The Sunshine Boys (1972). He also established himself as one of the great noir stalwarts with a long list of film noir credits, including The Killers, Crossfire, The Sweet Smell of Success and many others. Over his career he appeared in 37 Broadway shows, of which 33 were original Broadway productions. He also appeared in two major English productions: the first English production of Guys and Dolls in 1953 and the original production of Thorton Wilder's The Matchmaker (1954). Sam Levene's Broadway performances included creating roles in the original Broadway productions of: Dinner at Eight (1932), Room Service (1937), Three Men on a Horse(1935), Margin For Error (1939), Light Up the Sky (1948), Guys and Dolls (1950), Fair Game (1957), The Devil's Advocate (1961), written, produced and directed by Dore Schary, based on the novel by Morris West, for which Sam Levene was nominated for the 1961 Tony Award for Best Actor in a play, and also Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys (1972). In 1954 Sam Levene originated the role of Horace Vandergelder in the world premiere production of Tyrone Guthrie's The Matchmaker (1954), initially at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland and performed that role for 274 performances at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London's West End. He passed away in 1980 at the age of 75.
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