Ira Levin was born in New York City on August 27, 1929, to a toy merchant and importer, Charles Levin, and his wife, Beatrice Schlansky Levin. As a boy, he became fascinated with magic and began frequenting shops that sold supplies for professional magicians. In his early teens, he developed a passionate interest in theater and in mystery stories. Soon, he had decided to be a playwright or novelist—or both. However, his father was insistent that his son enter the family’s toy business. After graduating from the Horace Mann School in New York, Levin decided to attend Drake University in Iowa, but after two years moved back to New York and enrolled in New York University, from which he received a bachelor of arts with a major in English and philosophy. Levin was in his senior year when he won the second-place prize in CBS’s screenplay contest.
After Levin graduated, the conflict with his father about a choice of career resumed. Eventually the two agreed on a plan: For two years, his father would support Levin financially while he tried to establish himself as a writer. If Levin was unsuccessful after two years, he would join his father’s business. Levin quickly succeeded, however, selling screenplays to the television anthology series Lights Out and The United States Steel Hour and stories to such magazines as The Ladies Home Journal and Manhunt. In 1953, when he was only twenty-two years old, Levin published his...
(The entire section is 540 words.)