A Bad Week in the Literary World
The writer Norman Mailer passed away last weekend. Last night came news of the death of Ira Levin.
Mr. Levin never became a household name, and his output was scarce at best - seven novels, the first of which was published 54 years ago, but chances are that anyone reading this blog will recognize his work. His first novel, A Kiss Before Dying, was published in 1953 when Levin was just 24 years old. Three years later it was filmed, giving Joanne Woodward and Robert Wagner their best early roles. A tepid remake was released in 1991.
Among Ira Levin's other works: The cult classic Rosemary's Baby, which was also made into a film; The Stepford Wives, filmed twice and, like Rosemary's Baby, spawned one or more TV movie sequels; The Boys From Brazil, and Deathtrap, which began as a Broadway play.
It's not many authors who can say that most of their books were made into movies (two of them twice). Considering the financial successes of his books, it's no wonder that Levin didn't write more.
He once remarked that because he authored Rosemary's Baby he felt responsible for the string of 1970s Hollywood movies about the Devil (the most prominent of which were The Exorcist and The Omen. He added, no doubt with a twinkle in his eye, "Of course, I didn't send any of the royalties back."