The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on January 26, 1969 · Page 468
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 468

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 26, 1969
Page 468
Start Free Trial

4 p One and only Sardocttes. The quick after-shower " I skin treatment towelette that's rich in precious Sardo I bath oils. Smooth Sardocttes on rough, dry heels. elbows, knees, all over! It softens, soothes, smooths, protects your skin just like the famous Sardo bath oil treatment. Sardoettescome individually wrapped in a little package and do good things for rough dry skin . SPECIAL SAMPLE OFFER: Sardo, P.O. Box 484, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11202 I accept, please send me 3 individually wrapped Sardocttes. Enclosed is 25c to cover handling. Name Address City State ZipCode IMPORTANT. Zip Cod mutl t Included. Oll.r llmll.d to on par family. Thll ollfr wlrat April 30, 1969. vsSview By BURT PRELUTSKY Oscar the Magnificent 'Who wants to remember the last 10 years? One recent Sunday evening I got up the courage to phone Oscar Levant. It was an unnerving experience. Fortunately he was even more shaken than I, and, so, after much persuasion, he finally agreed to meet me the following Tuesday. No sooner had he agreed than he said, "Why am I doing this?" When I suggested it might be that when one depressive asks to interview another, he's not about to get no for an answer, Oscar laughed. "You're right," he said, "that's h." Before hanging up, he named his price. "Bring me a couple of sleeping pills." I asked what kind. "It doesn't matter," he said. 'They're all good." The next day he called me. The interview's off. I'm in no condition to talk to anyone," he announced. "My mind's gone, my wit's left me and I've got nothing to say." I assured him that my time wasn't so precious that I couldn't squander an hour with him. Against his better judgment, he again agreed to see me. He lives in a comfortable home above Sunset Boulevard, with his actress-wife, June. Married for 29 years, they have three daughters. His entrance was none too encouraging. He descended the staircase, wearing a blue robe and yellow pajamas, looking like Camille in drag. He seemed frail and haggard until he started talking. Then the eyes came to life and even his grin appeared oftener than Oscar would care to admit I asked him what he had been up to since the publication of his latest book, The Unimportance of Being Oscar. "I am contriving new means of sleeping all day," he said. When I told him that I shared his ambition, and that I was glad to hear that he wasn't wasting his time with trivialities, he went on: "I once told Irving Berlin that I could remember everything but the last 10 years, and he said, 'But who wants to remember the last 10 years?' " Surely not Oscar. At 62, his diet consists mainly of tapioca pudding, ice cream and diet cola. He is afflicted with edema, arthritis and insomnia. Part of Oscar's charm is that he can somehow manage to list his ailments and sound as if he's boasting. For the first SO years of his life, Levant was almost a caricature of the talented eccentric. There was nothing he didn't do, no one he didn't know. He was a concert pianist; a 10-year panel member on radio's Information, Please: a writer (A Smattering of Ignorance); a composer (Lady, Play Your Mandolin); a movie star (Humoresque); TV host; and intimate of everyone from gangsters to Gershwins to Presidents. During the six hours I spent with the Levants, Oscar informed me that "ballet is the fairies' baseball"; that "John O'Hara was a terrible bore as a young man he was always looking for a fight, and making sure he never found one," and that "the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is that the Democrats let the poor be corrupt, too." Oscar has never kept his dependence on barbiturates a secret. He freely admits, "After the second book, Memoirs of an Amnesiac, I went to the hospital to withdraw but it didn't take. I've been on barbiturates for IS years. June controls the medicine cabinet; that does something to your manhood." When June stepped out of the room for a moment, Oscar wasted no time asking for his bribe. I gave him two sleeping pills. When I asked him what he thinks of Los Angeles, he replied, "I don't" He remembers the first time he visited the Trumans. As he and June left the White House, he complained, "I guess now we owe them a dinner." His mind wanders from anecdote to anecdote, as he sits, playing with an unlighted cigarette, drumming his fingers nervously on a table top. "Romance is what I enjoyed most in my life. When she was IS, Judy Garland was after me. She used to write me love letters and call me every night. The studio once told Maureen O'Sullivan not to go out with that piano player. Now my sex life consists of kissing my guests good night" As the Levants walked me to the door, Oscar, who had earlier complained that in 29 years with June he had not known one peaceful moment, confessed, "I admire her and I'm deeply attached to her," and added in a hoarse whisper, "I love her." And then, just as I had decided he was about as cynical as Santa Claus, he looked at me and said, "You look an awful lot like I did at your age." Cracks like that can keep you awake nights. If he keeps it up, the next time we get together it's going to cost him a couple of sleeping pills. Lot Angaln Timot WEST magazine, January 26, 1969

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 15,800+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Los Angeles Times
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free