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Capsule Profile: ROBERT S. LEVINSON 

Author: FINDERS, KEEPERS, LOSERS, WEEPERS, PHONY TINSEL, A RHUMBA IN WALTZ TIME, THE TRAITOR IN US ALL, IN THE KEY OF DEATH, WHERE THE LIES BEGIN, ASK A DEAD MAN, THE ANDY WARHOL AFFAIR (HOT PAINT), THE JOHN LENNON AFFAIR, THE JAMES DEAN AFFAIR, THE ELVIS AND MARILYN AFFAIR

Robert S. Levinson is the bestselling author of the stand-alone novels “Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers,” “Phony Tinsel,” “A Rhumba in Waltz Time,” “The Traitor in Us All,” "In the Key of Death," "Where the Lies Begin" and "Ask a Dead Man," as well as the Neil Gulliver and Stevie Marriner series of mystery-thrillers, which to date comprises "The Elvis and Marilyn Affair," "The James Dean Affair, "The John Lennon Affair," and "The Andy Warhol Affair (Hot Paint)”.

He won the Short Mystery Fiction Society's Best Short Story Derringer Award for "The Quick Brown Fox," a short that originally appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. The short is also among those featured in the anthology, "Between the Dark and the Daylight and 28 More of the Year's Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. An original short, "Down in Capistrano," appears in "Orange County Noir," and another, The Night of the Murder,” in the 2012 anthology “Crime Square.” Another original, “The Dead Detective,” appears in the 2013 anthology “The Sound and the Furry: Stories to benefit the International Fund for Animal Welfare.”

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Levinson, a Shamus award nominee, was an Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Award winner three consecutive years. To date, his short stories have been selected for inclusion in "year's best" anthologies eight consecutive years, including 2009 as the cover title piece (from Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine) in “A Prisoner of Memory and 24 of the Year’s Finest Crime and Mystery Stories.”

Another original short, "And the Winner is…" is included in the anthology "Hollywood and Crime: Original Crime Stories Set During the History of Hollywood." Earlier Levinson short stories appear in "The Deadly Bride and 21 of the Year's Finest Crime and Mystery Stories; "The Adventure of the Missing Detective and 19 of the Year's Finest Crime and Mystery Stories;" the 5th annual "World's Finest Crime & Mystery" anthology; and "Flesh & Blood: Guilty as Sin."

Many of his novels and short stories are now available at Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Smashwords and other eBook sites. The list includes a number of new short stories as well as an eBook original novel, “The Ending We Deserve.”

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Plays by Levinson were featured at the inaugural and second annual International Mystery Writers Festival of RiverPark Center in Owensboro, KY. The first, "Transcript," was presented out-of-competition and subsequently developed by RiverPark in radio show format for international distribution. "Murder Times Two" was nominated for "Angie" award honors and published in the On Stage Press/Samuel French anthology, "Scripts."

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Levinson served four years on the Mystery Writers of America national board of directors, as well as two years as president of MWA's Southern California chapter. He wrote and produced the 2003 and 2004 Annual Edgar Awards gala of the MWA and the inaugural and 2nd Annual Thriller Awards shows of the International Thriller Writers organization I 2006 and 2007).

In addition to MWA, ITW, Sisters-in-Crime, Private Eye Writers of America and the International Association of Crime Writers, Levinson is a member of the Writers Guild of America-West (past board of directors member) and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He is past chairperson f the editorial board of the WGAw's monthly magazine, Written By, and served six terms as president of the Hollywood Press Club, which years later voted "The Elvis and Marilyn Affair" "Best Novel About Hollywood" in its annual HPC Awards of Distinction.

With publication of his first novel, "The Elvis and Marilyn Affair," Levinson embarked upon a fifth career, following decades of success as a newspaperman, a public relations executive, and a writer-producer of more than three dozen television specials

He was a newspaperman (Riverside, CA, Press Enterprise, Los Angeles Times) before entering the field of public relations, where he represented a diverse roster of major corporate, industrial and financial accounts, among them the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Mattel Toys, 21 Brands, Waste King Corporation, Filon Corporation, and General Brewing Corporation.

His company, Levinson Associates, created and pioneered "independent PR support services" in the music industry and at one time was the largest rock-contemporary music PR firm in the world. The company made Esquire Magazine's first "Hot 100" rock-and-roll list of music industry headliners and he was the first to be honored by Billboard Magazine as "Publicist of the Year," for his innovative international campaigns.

Any catalog of Levinson Associates clients--comprising more than 700 major star names--would include Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, The Who, Three Dog Night, Grand Funk Railroad, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Jimmy Buffett, The Osmonds, Olivia Newton-John, Ike & Tina Turner, Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, Tanya Tucker, Bread, Kinky Friedman, Shaun Cassidy, David Cassidy, David Essex, John Entwistle, Sparks, and Tom Petty, as well as the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Arnold Kopelson Productions, Dick Clark Productions, Mike Curb Enterprises, the Actors Studio, Lee Strasberg, Richard Harris, Suzanne Somers, Marcel Marceau, Roger Clinton; Motown Records, Capitol Records, MCA Records, RSO Records, Island Records, Jobete Music, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), the MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas; the Tropicana Hotel, Las Vegas; and, the Friars Club.

Later, he formed Levinson Entertainment Ventures, Inc., developing, writing and producing some 40 comedy, musical, variety and awards specials for the world marketplace, among them the Annual Soap Opera Awards, the first and second annual Beach Music specials, and shows starring major artists such as Glen Campbell, David Soul, Jerry Lee Lewis, the late Marvin Gaye, Blood, Sweat & Tears, WAR, America, Anne Murray, Charlie Rich, Charley Pride, the Jacksons, and others. Two Suzanne Somers one-hour variety specials for CBS Television were created and developed by Levinson, supervising production for Hamel-Somers Entertainment. "Here Comes Didi!" was a series of half hour comedies produced in Hollywood and West Germany and starring one of Europe's major entertainers, Dieter (Didi) Hallervorden.

Levinson's freelance writing over the years included four years as art columnist and critic for Coast Magazine, where he wrote the first major consumer cover story dealing with Andy Warhol, a feature that anticipated Warhol's significant role in art history. He wrote for publications such as the Los Angeles Times West Magazine, Rolling Stone, Westways, Los Angeles Free Press, Written By Magazine, and Los Angeles Magazine.

References to him appear in more than a dozen books about the art world, the music business, and show business in general, among them: "Legal Aspects of the Music Industry;" "Praise, Vilification & Sexual Innuendo or, How to Be a Critic/The Selected Writings of John L. Wasserman;" "Liberty Records. A History of the Recording Company and its Stars, 1955-1971;" "One is the Loneliest Number/On the Road and Behind the Scenes with the Legendary Rock Band Three Dog Night;" "The Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul;" "Oscar Dearest: The Unofficial History of the Academy Awards;" "Ken Tyler-Master Printer and the American Print  Renaissance;" "Gemini G.E.L./Art and Collaboration;" "Teen Idols;" "Robert Rauschenberg;" "Technics and Creativity."

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For the Writers Guild of America West, Levinson created a School Literacy Program that brought writers into classrooms on an ongoing basis, to inspire youngsters to read and write and give them a sense of the real world outside the schoolyard.

For the Hollywood Press Club, he has developed and produced a series of special events that include a Life Achievement Gala for Milton Berle, an evening honoring retired Daily Variety Editor Tom Pryor, stage plays dealing with historical Hollywood figures such as Orson Welles and Harry Cohn, legendary founder of Columbia Pictures, and a Lifetime Achievement gala for Broadway composer Jerry Herman ("Mame," "Hello, Dolly!").

Other fund-raising event involvements have included Friars dinners honoring Burt Reynolds, Roseanne and Charlton Heston; a Bette Midler opening night concert for the Colette Chuda Fund; SHARE's Annual Boomtown Show; benefit performances of "Love Letters" for Tuesday's Child; a luncheon hosted by Jamie Lee Curtis, Sissy Spacek and Edward James Olmos to benefit the AIDS Orphan Adoption Project of the NCFA (National Council for Adoption); and, a Gateways Hospital Humanitarian Award dinner honoring philanthropist Sybil Brand.

Levinson has been honored in the past, by the California State Senate, whose resolution recognized his "outstanding record of dedicated and highly-effective performance to the entertainment through the force of public relations, as well as to the growth and economic good of the State of California." The Los Angeles City Council recognized Levinson for creating and implementing an anti-drugs program designed to show young people that "the road to real success is easier to achieve in a drug-free community, and honored him again in 2013 for his years of cultural contributions."  The Governor of Kentucky in 2008 commissioned him a "Kentucky Colonel," in recognition of his cultural contributions to the state.

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Levinson's novels have been praised by, among others, Nelson DeMille, Clive Cussler, Joseph Wambaugh, Jeffery Deaver, William Link, Margaret Maron, Joe R. Lansdale, John Lescroart, David Morrell, T. Jefferson Parker, James Rollins, Heather Graham, F. Paul Wilson, Michael Palmer, Dick Lochte, Gayle Lynds, Peter Lefcourt, Digby Diehl, Jon L. Breen, Christopher Reich, Tom Nolan, Joseph Finder, Thomas Perry, William Kent Krueger, and Ernest Lehman.

"The Elvis and Marilyn Affair" earned him the first in a series of rave trade and consumer reviews. "The James Dean Affair" opened at the #1 spot on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list and also was the book-of-the-month choice of the MSNBC Book Club. "The John Lennon Affair," another Los Angeles Times best-seller, was succeeded by "Hot Paint," a Gulliver & Marriner thriller built around Andy Warhol that was a Hollywood Inside Syndicate book-of-the-month selection.

The LA Times best-selling "Ask a Dead Man" received a coveted starred review from Publishers Weekly, which observed: "A novel that not only stands alone but stands tall. Writing with considerable invention, grace and energy, (Levinson) tells an intricate and emotionally potent tale of murder and double-cross…This is a dense, dark, beautifully wrought tale of love and betrayal, sin and retribution, offering serious suspense, terrific twists and full-blooded characters. Levinson may not have an Irish name but he carries the soul of the Irish poets in his pen and in his heart…only a dead man wouldn't relish this read."

"Ask a Dead Man" also was hailed by Kirkus Reviews for its "guilty pleasures," and Booklist raved, "Genuinely exciting…It sinks its narrative claws into our skin and drags us along on what proves to be an exhilarating ride…" The Chicago Tribune called it "a book full of enough treachery and paranoia to light up a small city."

The Chicago Tribune singled out "Where the Lies Begin" as "(Levinson's) latest tough and funny new book (with) a gang of Federal double dealers who make the Hollywood Press corps look like a church choir," while the Baltimore Sun hailed the novel as "(An) ever-surprising, character-rich thriller," and the Midwest Book Review described it as "A complex and exciting espionage thriller…fun to read as the audience tries to determine who's on whose side."

Kirkus Reviews observed that the LA Times bestselling "In the Key of Death" was "stuffed with action, violence, sex, music-business savvy and plot." Crimespree Magazine called it "…an ass-kicker that unravels the music industry…Fast-paced, funny and dark, this is a whirlwind in a bottle and turning that first page is going to let it loose."

“The Traitor in Us All” won a solid round of positive reviews from publications such as Booklist, Genre-Go-Round, and Pop Culture Magazine, as well as kudos from authors such as Jeffery Deaver, who commented, “Absolutely top-notch … A delicious blend of the best in thriller writing. No surprise here. Levinson has been stirring up delicious blends for many years.”

Publishers Weekly rewarded “A Rhumba in Waltz Time” one of its coveted  starred reviews, while The Thrilling Detective cited it as “a superb Depression Era Hollywood Noir.” Acclaimed crime novelist  Joseph Wambaugh called it “a nostalgic, wisecracking, action-packed romp filled with an insider’s knowledge of show business and the movie star gossip mill.”

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine’s Jury Box review called “Phony Tinsel”  “a twisted tale of love, sex, and egos…,” while multiple award-winning author Ed Gorman said it was “one of the freshest, liveliest and page-turningest takes on Old Hollywood ever written.” Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Margaret Maron heralded the novel as “a delightfully improbable romp  through 1938 Hollywood with all the usual Levinson wit and humor.”

Levinson”s most recent (2004) crime novel, “Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers,” according to Publishers Weekly’s glowing review: “…builds to an explosive, yet emotionally satisfying, conclusion.  Author Thomas Perry said Levinson “is a pro who knows a hundred ways to tell a story, and in this book he has a wild and moving story to tell.” Author William Kent Krueger raved, “This is a wise, profane, thrilling and thoroughly entertaining tale of unimaginable loss and extraordinary redemption…not only a savvy look inside the music industry, but also an insightful glimpse into the human heart.”

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An in-demand public speaker, Levinson resides with his wife, Sandra, and their rescue pooch, Rosie, in Los Angeles. He welcomes contact at boblevinson@robertslevinson.com as well as Post Office Box 292393, Los Angeles, CA 90029. Appearances, other activities, photographs, and special features, are updated frequently at his website,www.robertslevinson.com.

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January, 2014
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