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Harold Leventhal, Legendary Folk Music Promoter, Dies at 86
Published October 6, 2005

He was the first to present Bob Dylan at a major concert venue, and also worked with Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Cash and many other folk greats.

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 Web site of the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives.

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

He presented a 21-year-old Bob Dylan at Town Hall in New York in Dylan's first major concert hall appearance on April 12, 1963. He was also the longtime producer of the Thanksgiving folk concert at Carnegie Hall, which 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 called "Bound for Glory"; and "Wasn't That a Time!" in 1982. "Bound For Glory" received two Academy Awards, for music and cinematography.

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

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

He is survived bu his wife, the former Natalie Buxbaum; two daughters, Debra Leventhal-Nuyen and Judy Leventhal; and four grandchildren.