'Rosemary's Baby' novelist Ira Levin dies


NEW YORK -- Best-selling writer Ira Levin, whose genre-hopping novels such as the horror classic "Rosemary's Baby" and the Nazi thriller "The Boys From Brazil" provided meaty movie roles for Mia Farrow and Laurence Olivier, has died of a heart attack, his agent said Tuesday. He was 78.

Levin, who also wrote for television and Broadway during his long career, passed away in his Manhattan apartment on Monday, agent Phyllis Westberg said.

Long before authors such as Stephen King had their books routinely turned into movies, Levin watched his novels move inexorably to the big screen. Besides "Rosemary's Baby" with Farrow and "The Boys From Brazil" with Olivier, Levin's novels "The Stepford Wives," "Sliver" and "A Kiss Before Dying" all received the Hollywood treatment.

His long-running 1978 play "Deathtrap" was also made into a Sidney Lumet-directed film, starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve.

Levin worked as a TV writer before finishing his first novel, "A Kiss Before Dying," a murder mystery that was an instant success and twice made into a movie.

It wasn't until 14 years after his first book that Levin completed his second novel, "Rosemary's Baby," the creepy tale of a New York couple in the clutch of Satanists who want the young wife to bear Satan's child.

Levin also wrote the Broadway adaptation of "No Time for Sergeants." The 1955 show, which launched the career of actor Andy Griffith, ran for more than 700 performances.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete. Levin is survived by three sons and three grandsons, Westberg said.