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Ira Levin, author of plays and novels that became major film, television and theatrical productions, including Rosemary’s Baby, A Kiss Before Dying, No Time for Sergeants (the play, adapted from a novel), The Stepford Wives, and The Boys from Brazil, died at 78 on this date in 2007. His best-known play is Deathtrap, the longest-running comedy-thriller on Broadway. A native New Yorker, Levin was a graduate of Horace Mann and New York University. Margalit Fox described his work in the New York Times as “blending mystery, Gothic horror, science fiction and the techno-thriller — Mr. Levin’s novels conjured up a world full of quietly looming menace, in which anything could happen to anyone at any time. In short, the Ira Levin universe was a great deal like the real one, only more so: more starkly terrifying, more exquisitely mundane.”
“I feel guilty that Rosemary’s Baby led to The Exorcist, The Omen. A whole generation has been exposed, has more belief in Satan. I don’t believe in Satan. And I feel that the strong fundamentalism we have would not be as strong if there hadn’t been so many of these books. Of course, I didn’t send back any of the royalty checks.” --Ira Levin
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.