Best-selling writer Ira Levin, whose novels included the occult-horror classic “Rosemary’s Baby,” the Nazi thriller “The Boys From Brazil” and the satirical fantasy “The Stepford Wives,” has died, his agent said Tuesday. He was 78.
Levin suffered a fatal heart attack in his Manhattan apartment on Monday, said agent Phyllis Westberg.
The native New Yorker, whose father was in the toy business and had hoped that his son would follow in his footsteps, decided at age 15 that he wanted a career in writing and finished second in a screenplay writing competition held by NBC while a senior at New York University.
Levin began working as a TV writer before finishing his first novel, “A Kiss Before Dying,” a murder mystery that was an instant success. His debut won the Edgar Allan Poe Award as the best first novel of 1953.
It wasn’t until 14 years later 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.
As often happened with Levin’s books, “Rosemary’s Baby” became a movie — in this case, starring Mia Farrow. “The Boys From Brazil,” “The Stepford Wives” and “Sliver” were also turned into big-budget Hollywood productions.
Levin also wrote the long-running Broadway hit “Deathtrap,” which debuted in February 1978.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete. He is survived by three sons and three grandsons, Westberg said.