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Singer Florence Reid Levine, 95, of Westbury dies

Singer Florence Reid Levine specialized as a wedding

Singer Florence Reid Levine specialized as a wedding performer. Credit: Handout

Florence Reid Levine, a singer who specialized as a wedding performer and recorded two wedding albums for MGM, died at her home in Westbury Friday from natural causes. She was 95.

Her singing style was of the 1940s and '50s and she was always in demand at various events throughout her life, her family said.

"I remember her wearing these absolutely gorgeous beaded gowns to sing and go with her to the hotels in the Catskills," said her daughter, Jackie Levine, of Westbury. "She had a beautiful voice."

Levine was born on Oct. 6, 1917, in Homer City, Pa., one of seven siblings. Her parents, Michael and Rosa Lisi, emigrated from Sicily and later moved to Ohio, where Levine graduated from high school. She participated in an all-women's softball team during a time when outfits included skirts.

The family moved to New Jersey when Levine was in her early 20s. She was crowned Miss New Brunswick, which launched her entertainment career, according to her family.

Levine moved to Queens and started singing at weddings, bar mitzvahs and other events. Levine sang in several languages, including Yiddish, French, Japanese and Italian. Between 1941 and 1961, she also performed on a radio show with singer Vaughn Monroe.

She met a drummer, Michael Laring Levine, at one wedding and married him in 1948. They performed together -- him on drums and Levine with her guitar, according to the family.

The couple moved to Westbury in 1956.

Levine sang on two wedding albums by Lenny Kaye and his orchestra for MGM and performed in New York City clubs, including the Stork Club and La Martinique.

In 1964, the family opened an Italian restaurant called Buona Vista in Franklin Square, where Levine would often serenade guests with her singing, according to her family. The restaurant closed in 1979.

She sang throughout her life and, in later years, joined a trio known as the "Grand Mama's" who sang at local libraries and senior centers about the joys and misfortunes of old age, according to her family.

In addition to her daughter, Levine is survived by another daughter, Fern Mann of Plainview, and two grandchildren. Services have been held with burial at Pinelawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale.

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