Ira Marvin Levin died on November 12, 2007, at the age of 78; he was an American novelist, playwright, and songwriter.
Born in Manhattan, New York City, on 27 August 1929, and grew up in Manhattan and the Bronx.
His father, Charles, was a toy importer.
Levin’s best-known novel is Rosemary’s Baby, a horror story of modern day Satanism and other occultisms, set in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
In 1968, it was made into a film starring Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes.
Ruth Gordon won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance.
Roman Polanski, who wrote and directed the film, was nominated for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.
Levin said in 2002, “I feel guilty that ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ led to ‘The Exorcist,’ ‘The Omen,’ A whole generation has been exposed, has more belief in Satan.
While writing for such shows as Lights Out and The U.S. Steel Hour, Levin worked on his first novel. He published his murder mystery, A Kiss before Dying, in 1953, which quickly brought him commercial success and critical praise. The novel won the
Edgar Award for Best First Novel the following year.
In The Stepford Wives, he explored a disturbing suburban town where wives have been replaced by androids.
Again working with fantasy, Levin imagined that Dr. Josef Mengele, a Nazi who experimented on concentration camp victims, tries to bring the Third Reich back to power in The Boys from Brazil.
The book explores the way-ahead-of-its-time issue of cloning.
That same year, Levin experienced his greatest theatrical triumph.
The comedic mystery Deathtrap opened on Broadway, and it became a smash hit.
Levin successfully fused humour and clever plot twists in this tale about a washed-up writer who plans to kill another for his play.
Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve starred in the 1982 film.
Never a prolific writer, Levin wrote only two more novels during his lifetime.
Sliver (1991) told the story of a woman being watched by the owner of her high-tech apartment building, and was later turned into a movie starring Sharon Stone.
In 1998, Levin tried to capitalize on his earlier success with Son of Rosemary: the Sequel to Rosemary’s Baby, but it didn’t capture readers’ interest as much as the original.
Stephen King has described Ira Levin as “the Swiss watchmaker of suspense novels, he makes what the rest of us do look like cheap watchmakers in drugstores.”
Chuck Palahniuk, in , calls Levin’s writing “a smart, updated version of the kind of folksy legends that cultures have always used.”
Levin wrote slowly and became skilful in exploiting the commercial possibilities in each work.
But he did not exploit readers, and always attempted something fresh.
He is survived by the children of his first marriage, to Gabrielle Aronsohn, which like the second, to Phyllis Finkel, ended in divorce.