Barry Levinson

Not to be confused with Barry Levinson (producer, born 1932).
Barry Levinson

Levinson at the 2009 premiere of Poliwood
Born (1942-04-06) April 6, 1942
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Education American University
Occupation Director, screenwriter, producer, actor
Years active 1970–present
Spouse(s) Valerie Curtin (1975–1982)
Diana Rhodes (1983–present; 2 children)

Barry Levinson (born April 6, 1942) is an American filmmaker, screenwriter, and actor. Levinson's best-known works are comedy-drama and drama films such as Diner (1982), The Natural (1984), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Rain Man (1988), Bugsy (1991), and Wag the Dog (1997).[1][2][3] He won the Academy Award for Best Director for his work on Rain Man, which also won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Early life

Levinson was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Violet "Vi" (née Krichinsky) and Irvin Levinson, who worked in the furniture and appliance business.[4][5] His family was of Russian Jewish descent.[6]


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 an 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), a sibling drama starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise (Levinson appeared in a cameo as a doctor). The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It also won the Golden Bear at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.[7]

Another of his notable films is the popular period baseball drama The Natural (1984), starring Robert Redford. Redford would later direct Quiz Show (1994) and cast Levinson as television personality Dave Garroway. Levinson also directed the classic war comedy Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), starring Robin Williams, with whom he later collaborated on the fantasy Toys (1992) and the political comedy Man of the Year (2006). Levinson also directed the critically acclaimed historical crime drama Bugsy (1991), which starred Warren Beatty and was nominated for ten Academy Awards.

He directed Dustin Hoffman again in Wag the Dog (1997), a political comedy co-starring Robert De Niro about a war staged in a film studio (Levinson had been an uncredited co-writer on Hoffman's 1982 hit comedy Tootsie). The film won the Silver Bear – Special Jury Prize at the 48th Berlin International Film Festival.[8]

Levinson partnered with producer Mark Johnson to form the film production company Baltimore Pictures. The two parted ways in 1994. Levinson has been a producer or executive producer for such major productions as The Perfect Storm (2000), directed by Wolfgang Petersen; Analyze That (2002), starring De Niro 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 to 1999) and the HBO prison drama Oz. Levinson also played an uncredited main role as a judge in the short-lived TV series The Jury.

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". In 2004, Levinson was the recipient of the Austin Film Festival's Distinguished Screenwriter Award. 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.

Levinson is in production on a film based on Whitey Bulger, the Boston crime boss.[9] The film Black Mass (script by Jim Sheridan, Jez Butterworth, and Russell Gewirtz) is based on the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill, and is said to be the "true story of Billy Bulger, Whitey Bulger, FBI agent John Connelly and the FBI's witness protection program that was created by J. Edgar Hoover."[10]

In September 2013, Levinson was set to direct the film titled Rock the Kasbah, written by Mitch Glazer.[11] Bruce Willis, Shia LaBeouf, Bill Murray and Kate Hudson will star in the film.[12] He has also finished production on The Humbling (2015), starring Al Pacino.

In 2010 Levinson received the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement, which is the lifetime achievement award from the Writers Guild of America.



Title Year Credited as Notes
Director WriterProducer Other
Street Girls 1975 Yes With Michael Miller
Silent Movie 1976 Yes Actor With Mel Brooks, Ron Clark and Rudy De Luca
Role: Executive
High Anxiety 1977 Yes Actor With Mel Brooks, Ron Clark and Rudy De Luca
Role: Bellboy
...And Justice For All 1979 Yes With Valerie Curtin
1 Oscar nomination
Inside Moves 1980 Yes With Valerie Curtin
History of the World, Part I 1981 Actor Role: Column Salesman
Tootsie 1982 Yes Uncredited
With Larry Gelbart, Murray Schisgal, and Elaine May
Best Friends Yes With Valerie Curtin
Diner Yes Yes Executive 1 Oscar nomination
Unfaithfully Yours 1984 Yes With Valerie Curtin and Robert Klane
The Natural Yes 4 Oscar nominations
Young Sherlock Holmes 1985 Yes 1 Oscar nomination
Armed Response 1986 Composer Additional music only
Tin Men 1987 Yes Yes
Good Morning, Vietnam Yes 1 Oscar nomination
Rain Man 1988 Yes Actor 8 Oscar nominations, 4 wins
Role: Doctor (uncredited)
Avalon 1990 Yes Yes Yes 4 Oscar nominations
Bugsy 1991 Yes Yes 10 Oscar nominations, 2 wins
Kafka Executive
Toys 1992 Yes Yes Yes
Wilder Napalm 1993 Executive
Jimmy Hollywood 1994 Yes Yes Actor Role: Director of Life Story
Disclosure Yes Yes
Quiz Show Actor Role: Dave Garroway
A Little Princess 1995 Executive
Sleepers 1996 Yes Yes Yes 1 Oscar nomination
Wag the Dog 1997 Yes Yes 2 Oscar nominations
Donnie Brasco Executive
The Second Civil War Executive Television film
Sphere 1998 Yes Yes
Home Fries Yes
Liberty Heights 1999 Yes Yes Yes
Original Diner Guys Yes Himself Documentary
An Everlasting Piece 2000 Yes Yes
The Perfect Storm Executive
Homicide: The Movie Executive Television film
Bandits 2001 Yes Yes
Shot in the Heart Executive Television film
Possession 2002 Yes
Analyze That Executive
Deliver Us from Eva 2003 Executive
The Adventures of Seinfeld & Superman Yes Pair of short films promoting American Express
Envy 2004 Yes Yes
Strip Search Executive Television film
Man of the Year 2006 Yes Yes
Bee Movie 2007 Actor Role: Martin Benson (voice)
What Just Happened 2008 Yes Yes
PoliWood 2009 Yes Documentary
The Band That Wouldn't Die Yes Creator Documentary
You Don't Know Jack 2010 Yes Executive Television film
The Bay 2012 Yes Story Yes
Phil Spector 2013 Executive Television film
Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight Actor Television film
Role: Justice Potter Stewart
The Humbling 2014 Yes Yes
Rock the Kasbah 2015 Yes
The Wizard of Lies 2016 Yes Executive


Title Year Credited as Notes
Director WriterProducer Other
The Tim Conway Show 1970 Yes
The Tim Conway Comedy Hour Yes 1 episode
The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine 1971–72 Yes Actor Role: Various
The Carol Burnett Show 1973–76 Yes 72 episodes
Hot l Baltimore 1975 Yes Episode: "Millie's Beau"
The Rich Little Show 1976 Yes Episode: "#1.1"
Peeping Times 1978 Yes Yes Comedy special
The Investigators 1984 Yes Yes Executive
American Playhouse 1985 Yes Episode: "Displaced Person"
Harry 1987 Yes Yes 7 episodes
The Earth Day Special 1990 Yes Segment: "Dustin Hoffman - Robin Williams"
The Larry Sanders Show 1993 Actor Episode: "Larry's Agent"
Role: Himself
Homicide: Life on the Streets 1993–99 Yes Story Executive Developer
122 episodes
Role: Himself
Oz 1997–2003 Executive 56 episodes
The Hoop Life 1999–2000 Yes 12 episodes
The Beat 2000 Yes Executive 6 episodes
Falcone Executive 9 episodes
The Jury 2004 Yes Story Executive Creator
Role: Judge Horatio Hawthorne
The Bedford Diaries 2006 Executive 4 episodes
The Philanthropist 2009 Executive 8 episodes
Borgia 2011–14 Executive 38 episodes
Copper 2012–13 Executive 12 episodes
Shades of Blue 2016 Yes Executive 12 episodes
Killing Fields Executive 4 episodes


  1. Erickson, Hal. "Barry Levinson". Rovi / All Movie Guide via The New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  2. New York Times
  3. Barnes, Brooks (December 14, 2009). "Al Pacino, Barry Levinson and Buck Henry Team Up on a Roth Tale". New York Times.
  7. "Berlinale: 1989 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2011-03-13.
  8. "Berlinale: 1998 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2012-01-23.
  9. Rottenberg, Josh (February 22, 2013). "Hollywood Insider: What's Going on Behind the Scenes: Boston's Bulger is Now Hollywood's It Gangster". Entertainment Weekly. New York: Time Inc.: 27.
  10. Cappadona, Bryanna (June 20, 2013). "Who Should Play Whitey Bulger in Black Mass?". Boston. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  11. Fleming Jr, Mike (3 September 2013). "QED Sets Bill Murray For Barry Levinson-Directed 'Rock The Kasbah'". Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  12. McClintock, Pamela (30 January 2014). "Kate Hudson, Bruce Willis, Shia LaBeouf Join "Rock the Kasbah"". Retrieved 6 February 2014.

External links

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