One of the more versatile American filmmakers of his generation, Barry Levinson's movies showcased subjects as diverse as the immigrant experience, mob intrigue, and political satire. He earned particular acclaim for his semi-autobiographical portraits of life in 1950s Baltimore, a topic that he explored to great effect in Diner, his 1982 directorial debut.
Born in Baltimore on June 2, 1942, Levinson was the son of a warehouse manager. Initially intent on a career in the media, he studied Broadcast Journalism in college but didn't remain there long enough to earn a degree. He instead switched his interests to acting and standup comedy, and, after serving a stint as a staff writer on The Carol Burnett Show, he was hired by producer Mel Brooks. The first film to carry a screenwriter credit for Levinson (in the company of several other writers) was Silent Movie (1976); this was followed by Brooks' High Anxiety (1977), which also featured Levinson as a vengeful bellboy in the film's celebrated Psycho-parody scene.