In the theater of the Westbury Music Fair in the early 1970s — moments before Debbie Reynolds was to take the stage — a call came from an announcer: “Is there a doctor in the house?”
Connie Levine nudged her husband, Dr. Bernard “Buddy” Levine, and the North Woodmere doctor was summoned backstage.
There, he helped the iconic actress and performer to control her breathing, Connie Levine recalled, and Reynolds canceled the show. She and her mother stayed the night at the Levines’ home, and the next morning, Reynolds entered the kitchen in a bathrobe, ate breakfast with the family, and sat outside in the backyard before hailing a cab to her hotel.
Indebted to the Levines, Reynolds invited them to see her the next year in “Irene” on Broadway. The couple found Reynolds backstage at her shows over the years, including one at West Palm Beach commemorating Reynolds’ 80th birthday.
Levine’s patients regarded him kindly, too, over a 45-year career in medicine in Rosedale, Queens, sending him Italian cheesecakes and cannolis. Levine died April 9 after a six-and-a-half year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 78.
Levine gave the patients “all the time in the world,” his widow said. “They were family to him.”
Bernard Levine was born in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn and the family moved to Bay Shore when he was a child.
In 1958, the couple began dating as teenagers after meeting at the Firemen’s Carnival at Bay Shore High School one summer night.
He graduated from the Brooklyn College of Pharmacy in 1960.
In 1961, he and Connie married at the Huntington Town House and moved to Philadelphia while he attended the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
After his graduation from medical school in 1964, the Levines moved to Little Neck before settling in North Woodmere. They have three daughters.
Dr. Levine, a general practitioner, treated patients of all ages. He delivered babies, made frequent house calls, and served on the staff and board of directors of Deepdale General Hospital in Little Neck.
The Levines were longtime members of the Woodmere Club, where the couple played golf for 32 years. They crisscrossed the globe, visiting countries in Europe, Asia and South America. They also enjoyed the national parks on the West Coast.
Connie Levine described her husband as a “devoted father,” who was “very, very kind and generous” to his children. “He was a good listener, and he attended every one of their activities.”
A proud moment was watching their daughter Lauren Grossinger of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, graduate from the same osteopathic college he attended in Philadelphia. There, he placed a doctoral hood on her at the college’s commencement ceremony.
Another daughter, Jamie Keslowitz of North Woodmere, described her father as “a real mentor” who encouraged her to go back to school as an adult to train as an educator. She works as an art teacher in Roosevelt.
“He knew that I loved what I do,” she said. “He was very proud that I did that.”
Levine also is survived by another daughter, Renee Rumstein, an independent sales representative who lives in Babylon; a brother, Hal Levine, 83, of Lake Worth, Florida; and eight grandchildren.
Dr. Levine was cremated.
A memorial service will be held Sunday at 2 p.m. at Gutterman’s Chapel in Rockville Centre. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.