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Berth Right

July 31, 1994

The reviewer of "A Talent for Genius: The Life and Times of Oscar Levant," Ian Whitcomb, must not have been on a railroad train recently and must not have seen the film, "Rhapsody in Blue," recently. What George and Oscar shared was not a railroad sleeping car but rather a drawing room. In this drawing room, George was in the lower berth and Oscar in the upper berth. It was Oscar Levant who made the comment on this situation to the effect that "That's the difference between talent and genius."

THOMAS T. FOOSE, BROOKLYN, N.Y.

*

It was a pleasant surprise to find myself quoted in the review of Oscar Levant's biography, "A Talent for Genius" (Book Review, June 12).

Attributing the quote to journalist Burt Prelutsky, however, puts a misleading spin on it. While it is true that I first met Oscar when I interviewed him for my Times humor column, we remained friends for the last several years of his life. As a journalist, I would never have presumed to say, "Behind the facade of the world's oldest enfant terrible lurked the sweetest, warmest, most vulnerable man." It was as a friend that I said those words. Oscar died 21 years ago, and I miss him still.

BURT PRELUTSKY, NORTH HILLS

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