Barry Levinson Biography

Barry Levinson photo

Born: April 06, 1942


Date of Birth: April 6, 1942

"It gets harder and harder to make movies about human beings. These movies are like an endangered species." ~Barry Levinson

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Levinson was the son of a warehouse manager. He graduated from high school in 1960 and attended college in Baltimore while working in television. Initially intent on a career in the media, he studied broadcast journalism in college but didn't remain there long enough to earn a degree. He instead switched his interests to acting and stand-up comedy, and after serving a stint as a staff writer on The Carol Burnett Show, he was hired by comedy producer Mel Brooks.

After Levinson and former wife Valerie Curtin married in 1975, Levinson worked with Mel Brooks on Silent Movie (1976) and High Anxiety (1977). They then co-wrote: ...And Justice for All (1979), among other scripts.

While Curtin performed in San Francisco, he wrote Diner (1982). MGM bought it and, with a budget of under $5 million, Levinson directed. This was to be the first installment of his "Baltimore trilogy" (the others were Tin Men (1987), Avalon (1990) and Liberty Heights); Diner served to showcase several stars-to-be, among them Mickey Rourke, Ellen Barkin, Daniel Stern, Paul Reiser and Michael Tucker. A poignant, critically acclaimed coming-of-age story, the film helped to establish Levinson as a bankable director.

While filming Diner, he and Curtin divorced, and he met Diana Rhodes, whom he would eventually marry. His success brought him new projects including The Natural (1984) and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985).

In 1988, he tackled his most ambitious project of that time with Rain Man (1988). Focusing on a relationship between an autistic man and his brother, the film earned Levinson the Best Director Oscar as well as earning Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Screenplay.

After his many successes, a few like Toys (1992) would do poorly. Levinson would come back with a hit with Disclosure (1994), the same year the Levinsons moved to Marin County in Northern California to get away from the Hollywood scene.

Following a semi-disastrous foray into the sci-fi realm with Sphere (1998), Levinson literally and figuratively returned to his home turf in 1999 with Liberty Heights. The story of two Jewish boys growing up in Baltimore in the '50s, it featured the familiar Levinson themes of family ties, ethnic tension, Cold War anxiety, and the growing pains of a changing society.

Levinson returned to Baltimore to film the television series Homicide: Life on the Street. His work on the critically acclaimed drama earned him an Emmy Award for Best Individual Director of a Dramatic Series, as well as two Peabody Awards.

Levinson's Baltimore Pictures has produced many successful films such as the Robert Redford-directed Quiz Show, which was nominated for three Academy Awards, as well as not-so-popular films like Home Fries.

In 2002, Levinson received a Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award from the American Cinema Editors of USA. He currently lives in Redding, Connecticut with his wife and their two children, Sam and Michelle.


What Just Happened? (2008)
Man of the Year(2006)
An Everlasting Piece(2000)
Liberty Heights(1999)
Sphere (1998)
Wag the Dog(1997)
Disclosure (1994)
Jimmy Hollywood (1994)
Toys (1992)
Bugsy (1991)
Rain Man(1988)
Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Tin Men (1987)
Young Sherlock Holmes(1985)
The Natural(1984)
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