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Harold Leventhal, 86; Promoter Brought Legendary Folk Music Performers to U.S. Audiences

October 07, 2005|From Associated Press

Harold Leventhal, a renowned folk music promoter who worked with Woody Guthrie and introduced Bob Dylan in his first major concert hall show, has died. He was 86.

Leventhal died Tuesday at New York University Medical Center. His death was announced on the website of the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives.

From the 1950s to the end of the 20th century, Leventhal was a champion of folk music who introduced audiences to foreign and American artists, including the Weavers.

On April 12, 1963, he presented a 21-year-old Bob Dylan at New York's Town Hall in Dylan's first major concert hall appearance. He was also the longtime producer of the Thanksgiving folk concert at Carnegie Hall that featured Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger.

Leventhal won a Grammy in 1989 as a producer for the album "Folkways: A Vision Shared -- A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly."

He also produced several movies about the folk music world, including "Alice's Restaurant" in 1969, a 1976 biography of Woody Guthrie titled "Bound for Glory" and "The Weavers: Wasn't That a Time!" in 1982. "Bound for Glory," which starred David Carradine, received Academy Awards for music and cinematography, and was the first feature film to use a Steadicam.

Besides Dylan and Guthrie, Leventhal also worked with Harry Belafonte; Joan Baez; Johnny Cash; the Mamas and the Papas; Peter, Paul and Mary; Earl Scruggs; and Neil Young.

Leventhal was born May 24, 1919, in Ellenville, N.Y., and grew up in Manhattan and the Bronx. He served in the Army Signal Corps in India during World War II.

He is survived by his wife, Natalie; daughters Debra Leventhal-Nuyen and Judy Leventhal; and four grandchildren.

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