Sam Levene (Scholem Lewin)

Sam Levene

Sam Levene (August 28, 1905 – December 28, 1980) was an American Broadway and film actor. He made his Broadway debut in 1927 with five lines in a play titled Wall Street, and over a span of nearly 50 years, appeared on Broadway in 37 Shows, of which 33 were the original Broadway Productions, many now considered legendary. Levene made his film debut in 1936 as Patsy recreating the same role he had created on Broadway in Three Men on a Horse (1935). Levene also appeared in the USO Tour of this same Show; the Radio Version; the Musical version that opened on Broadway called Let It Ride (1961) as well as the 1969 Broadway Revival of the play directed by George Abbott, the original Broadway Director and co-author.  Levene also starred in the Broadway productions Dinner at Eight (1932), Room Service (1937), Light Up the Sky (1948), Heartbreak House (1959), The Impossible Years (1965), and Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys (1972), among many others. Although not known as a singer, he can be heard in the role of Nathan Detroit on the original cast recording of the musical Guys and Dolls, in which he appeared on Broadway. His solo number, “Sue Me,” was written in one octave to compensate for his lack of vocal range. He lost the role to Frank Sinatra in the film version. Levene was nominated for the 1961 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for The Devil’s Advocate (1961).  In the mid-’30s, Levene moved to Hollywood to re-create his stage role in the film Three Men on a Horse (1936). This was followed by roles as police lieutenants in After the Thin Man (1936), The Mad Miss Manton (1938) and Shadow of the Thin Man (1941). He played a small but vital role in the 1939 film classic Golden Boy as William Holden’s taxi-driving brother-in-law “Siggie”, a Doolittle Flyer and Japanese POW in the The Purple Heart (1944), and many film noir classics, such as The Killers (1946), Brute Force (1947) and Crossfire (1947). Levene made 49 films total during his Hollywood career, including The Opposite Sex (1956), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957), Act One (1963), A Dream of Kings (1969), Such Good Friends (1971), God Told Me To (1976) and Last Embrace (1979). His last film role was in the courtroom drama …And Justice for All (1979).  In December of 1980, he died of a heart attack in New York City.

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  • August, 28, 1905
  • Russia


  • December, 28, 1980
  • USA
  • New York, New York

Cause of Death

  • heart attack


  • Mount Carmel Cemetery
  • Glendale, New York
  • USA

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