Levitow was born in Los Angeles, California. He began working as an in-betweener at Warner Brothers Studios in 1940. Levitow briefly left Warner Brothers when he was drafted during World War II, returning in 1945. He first received animation credit in 1953 while working under the direction of Chuck Jones. He worked steadily for Jones over the remainder of the 1950s, and directed several cartoons for release in 1959, including the Pepé Le Pew cartoon "Really Scent". While working under Jones, he made characters' joints more angular than most other animators. Those characters with fur (Wile E. Coyote, for example) looked especially shaggy in Levitow's scenes.
In 1961, he moved to UPA and directed a series of Dick Tracy cartoons. Then in 1962, he directed the first feature-length animated television special, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. 1962 also saw the release of his theatrical feature Gay Purr-ee, with the voices of Robert Goulet, Judy Garland, and others. By 1965, he was working with Jones at MGM as an animator and a director in the Tom and Jerry series. He co-directed the feature film The Phantom Tollbooth with Chuck Jones at MGM. In addition, he worked with UPA on more Mr. Magoo cartoons, including The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo. He animated on the Chuck Jones-produced A Christmas Carol, directed by Richard Williams at Williams' London studio in 1971. His last completed project was B.C.: The First Thanksgiving in 1973. At the time of his death on May 8, 1975, Levitow was in line to direct the animated feature film Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure. The project was taken over by Richard Williams when Levitow unexpectedly died during pre-production at the age of 52. Grampa Simpson on The Simpsons was named after both Levitow and creator Matt Groening's grandfather (unbeknownst to the writers).
- Abe Levitow at the Internet Movie Database
- Official website
- Abe and Charlotte Levitow collection, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences