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Barry Levinson

Levinson at the 2009 premiere of Poliwood
Born April 6, 1942 (1942-04-06) (age 67)
Baltimore, Maryland
Spouse(s) Valerie Curtin (1977-1982)
Diana Rhodes

Barry Levinson (born April 6, 1942) is an American screenwriter, film director, actor, and producer of film and television. His films include Bugsy, The Natural and Rain Man.


Early life

Levinson was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Violet "Vi" (née Krichinsky) and Irvin Levinson, who worked in furniture and appliance business.[1][2] His family is of Russian Jewish descent.[3] After growing up in Baltimore and graduating from Forest Park Senior High School, Levinson attended Baltimore City Community College, and American University in Washington, D.C. before moving to Los Angeles to work as an actor and writer. Levinson at one time shared an apartment with would-be drug smuggler (and basis for the movie Blow) George Jung.


Levinson's first writing work was for variety shows such as The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine, The Lohman and Barkley Show, The Tim Conway Show, and The Carol Burnett Show. After some success as a screenwriter — notably the Mel Brooks comedies Silent Movie (1976) and High Anxiety (1977) (in which he played a bellboy) and the Oscar-nominated script (co-written by then-wife Valerie Curtin) …And Justice for All (1979) — Levinson began his career as a director with Diner (1982), for which he had also written the script and which earned him a Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay.


Diner was the first of a series of films set in the Baltimore of Levinson's youth. The others were Tin Men (1987), a story of aluminum-siding salesmen in the 1960s starring Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito; the immigrant family saga Avalon (which featured Elijah Wood in one of his earliest screen appearances), and Liberty Heights (1999).

His biggest hit, both critically and financially, was Rain Man (1988) with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise (in which Levinson also appeared as an actor). The film won four Academy Awards including Best Director for Levinson. Another notable film in his career was the 1984 baseball drama The Natural starring Robert Redford, who would later direct Quiz Show and cast Levinson as television personality Dave Garroway. Levinson also directed Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) and Toys (1992), both with Robin Williams, and the critically acclaimed Bugsy (1991) with Warren Beatty.

He directed Dustin Hoffman again in Wag the Dog (1997), a political comedy co-starring Robert DeNiro about a war staged in a film studio. Levinson had been an uncredited co-writer on Hoffman's hit comedy Tootsie in 1982. He partnered with producer Mark Johnson to form the film production company Baltimore Pictures, until the duo parted ways in 1994.

Levinson has been a producer or executive producer for such major productions as The Perfect Storm directed by Wolfgang Petersen (2000); Analyze That (2002), starring DeNiro as a neurotic mob boss and Billy Crystal as his therapist, and Possession (2002), based on the best-selling novel by A. S. Byatt.

He has a television production company with Tom Fontana (The Levinson/Fontana Company) and served as executive producer for a number of series, including Homicide: Life on the Street (which ran on NBC from 1993-1999) and the HBO prison drama Oz. Levinson also played a main role in the short-lived TV series The Jury, where he played a judge (the role was uncredited).

Levinson published his first novel, Sixty-Six (ISBN 0-7679-1533-X), in 2003. Like several of his films, it is semi-autobiographical and set in Baltimore in the 1960s. He directed two webisodes of the American Express ads "The Adventures of Seinfeld and Superman".

Levinson directed a documentary PoliWood about the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions. The documentary, produced by Tim Daly, Robin Bronk and Robert E. Baruc, had its premiere at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.

Personal life

Levinson grew up in a Jewish family. He married his writing collaborator Valerie Curtin in 1975. They divorced seven years later. He later married Dianna Rhodes, whom he met in Baltimore while filming Diner.

He is a minority owner of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team.

Currently, he resides with his two sons and wife in Redding, Connecticut.


Year Film Oscar wins Oscar nominations
1982 Best Friends
1982 Diner 1
1984 The Natural 4
1985 Young Sherlock Holmes 1
1987 Tin Men
1987 Good Morning Vietnam 1
1988 Rain Man 4 8
1990 Avalon 4
1991 Bugsy 2 10
1992 Toys 2
1994 Jimmy Hollywood
1994 Disclosure
1996 Sleepers 1
1997 Wag the Dog 2
1998 Sphere
1999 Liberty Heights
2000 An Everlasting Piece
2001 Bandits
2004 Envy
2006 Man of the Year
2008 What Just Happened
2009 a remake of The Saint television series - -
2009 PoliWood - a documentary - -
2009 The Band that Wouldn't Die - a documentary - -
2010 Boone's Lick - -


External links

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