Comedian Sam Levenson, who parlayed tales of Jewish life on the Lower East Side of New York into a successful career as a writer and television personality, died yesterday of a heart attack at Long Island College Hospital in Queens. He was 68.
Mr. Levenson was admitted to the hospital in the evening and suffered a cardiac arrest about 6:15 p.m., a hospital spokesman said.
Among his more famous books were "Everything But Money," "Sex and the Single Child" and "In One Era and Out the Other."
His ever-present grin, spectacled face and portly figure were known to millions of television viewers through the "Sam Levenson Show" on CBS in 1951. He also was panelist on "This Is Show Business," in the 1950s, moderated "Two for the Money" from 1955-56 and was a panelist later on "Match Game" and "To Tell the Truth" shows.
He was also featured often on the "Ed Sullivan Show."
Mr. Levenson was born on the Lower East Side of New York and graduated from Brooklyn College. Later he became a teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School.
His first appearance as a humorist came at a teacher's convention in Westchester County.
Audiences found his manner of delivery -- he chuckled loudly while spinning tales of his boyhood -- as affecting as the stories themselves, and it was not long before his performance schedule was fully booked.
Perhaps his most popular book was "Everything But Money," which he once described as a tribute to the careful upbringing he had as one of eight children in a poor family. "The war on poverty he said, 'has to be fought 50 percent from within.'"