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The Strange Tension of Oscar Levant

Home - by - February 17, 2013 - 01:15 America/New_York - 15 Comments

What do you get when you combine the frenetic weirdism of Oscar Levant and the calm, elegant and sophisticated Fred Astaire? You get great television.

Astaire sings great, he doesn’t dance, in this rare live television appearance. He seems to be torn between his devotion to his friend, Levant, and his need to get the hell out of there.  His body language suggests that he’s nervous about being on live with the certifiable and unpredictable Levant.

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» 15 Comments

  1. Moxie Man

    February 17th, 2013

    On live television, Oscar Levant noted: ‘Now that Marilyn Monroe is kosher, Arthur Miller can eat her.’ Levant’s show was immediately cancelled.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0278226/ .

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  2. Unruly Refugee

    February 17th, 2013

    That’s back when cigarettes were good for you.

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  3. Boobie the Rocket Dog

    February 17th, 2013

    I’m quite used to viewing old television, but never before noticed what it does to ears. Both Levant’s and Astaire’s ears look double size and ghost white.

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  4. Boobie the Rocket Dog

    February 17th, 2013

    Oh, LOOKIT! Click to edit button! Yesss.

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  5. Jerry Manderin

    February 17th, 2013

    Oscar sure is cwayzee!

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  6. Piker

    February 17th, 2013

    Back when they used to make television by rubbing two sticks together…

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  7. Stirrin the B.S.

    February 17th, 2013

    Our entertainment culture could really stand a reset button to times like this. That was real talent – improv and unrehearsed, and classy.

    It is a reminder of why we miss the Astaires, Sinatras and other entertainers of that era, but won’t think twice when the Snoop Dogs, Eminems, Fiddy Cents and any other gutter garbage performer of today’s pop culture permanently stops polluting our youth.

    Thanks for the breath of fresh air, Fur.

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  8. McFartus Spontaneous

    February 17th, 2013

    Who needs Astaire,Bogart,Brando,Lucille Ball,Gleason,Hepburn,Sinatra, etc., when we have the wonders of Ben Asslick, Matt Dumbdown, George Looney, and the rest of our noble Hollywood leaders.

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  9. IronyCurtain

    February 17th, 2013

    My favorite Levant quote:

    Jack Paar once asked him, “What do you do for exercise?”

    He replied, “I stumble, and then I fall into a coma.”

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  10. norman einstein

    February 17th, 2013

    That was great.
    What a sense of humor…”Johann Sebastian Bop”.

    I didn’t get the feeling that Astaire wanted to “get the hell out of there”. I think he was a bit on edge because being a perfectionist, he was used to knowing exactly what was coming next. With Levant, obviously that was impossible.
    I think he just wanted to ensure that the ‘bit’ was up to his standards. And it was.

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  11. Corona

    February 17th, 2013

    Is this a stream of consciousness show?

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  12. Corona

    February 17th, 2013

    (Oh neat. A Comment Editor!)

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  13. Birdie Num Num

    February 17th, 2013

    Standard Car Leasing guy rocked!!!!

    Seriously,it did look like old Fred was looking around as if saying “Where’s this guy’s keeper?”

    His wife must have been there to give him his meds.
    (He was a great musician,BTW.)

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  14. papadoc

    February 17th, 2013

    And he played his own piano. Very well.

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  15. Tuesday

    February 17th, 2013

    Oh, to be sitting in the corner of a room during a cocktail party while all these old Hollywood types got together–that is–if you could see them through the haze.

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