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Leon Belasco – 60 years of success
 
Leon Belasco was born in Odessa (now –  Ukraine, then – part of the Russian empire, Belasco lived with his family in Yokohama, Japan, and Manchuria, training to become a musician. For several years he even worked as the first violinist with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.
 
When his family moved to California in the 1920s, Belasco found occasional work in Hollywood, and in 1926 debuted in the silent film The Best People. In the evenings, he used to play the violin, to supplement his meager income. Later he formed his own band, which mainly performed in hotels and at busy tourist venues on the East Coast. 
 
The famous Andrews Sisters were introduced to the wide American audience through his band.
 
During a season break from a hotel engagement in 1938, he returned to Hollywood and was engaged in the Broadway Serenade and Topper Takes a Trip. His movie career took off, and within the following few years he acted in 13 (!) films, including such classics as Holiday Inn, Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Road to Morocco, Love Happy (the last film where the Marx Brothers appeared together).
 
Being able to speak Russian, he was a dialogue director in Norman Jewison's classic 1966 comedy The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming. Belasco often played eccentric or befuddled European and ethnic characters
 
He tried himself on radio, playing a thieving informant in the popular Man Called X radio drama. And in the 50s and 60s, with the rise of television as the main form of mass media in America, he was engaged in multiple films, including  My Sister Eileen (1960), Maverick (1961), Twilight Zone (1963), The Lucy Show (1963), The Beverly Hillbillies (1964-1967), My Three Sons (1966), The Dick Van Dyke Show (1966), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1966), Little House on the Prairie (1978) and Trapper John, M.D. (1980).
 
His last television movie (and appearance on the screen) was Woman of the Year (1976)...
 
Belasco died aget of 85 in Orange, California; according to his will, his body was cremated, and his ashes scattered.
 
Sources:
"Leon Belasco – Full Biography". The New York Times
 

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