Oscar Levant was the Amadeus of Hollywood, the Oscar Wilde of Broadway and the most wildly self-destructive personality ever to become a household name. An astonishingly gifted concert pianist (and the premier interpreter of Gershwin's concert works), composer, film and stage presence, radio and television raconteur wit and bestselling author, Levant steered a maniacally masochistic course through seven decades spent in the company of some of America's most noted literary, musical and entertainment personages. He penned three popular volumes of autobiography, made more than 100 recordings and appeared in thirteen films, including An American in Paris, The Band Wagon and Rhapsody in Blue, in which he literally played himself, best friend to George Gershwin. His death in 1972, at the age of sixty-five, left the entertainment community shocked -- largely with amazement that a four-pack-a-day smoker with a long history of drug abuse and mental illness had lasted as long as Levant did. Oscar Levant on himself: "There is a fine line between genius and insanity. I have crossed that line." "I'm a study of a man in chaos in search of frenzy." "My favorite exercises are groveling, brooding and rolling.