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Born Moritz Levine to Russian Jewish immigrant parents, Manson moved to New York City to become an actor and worked steadily on and off Broadway throughout the 1930s and into the 1940s. Among his credits were productions of Othello and Macbeth at the Barrymore Theater. In the 1950s, he moved to Hollywood, California, and was cast mostly in small roles. He appeared in films such as Hellcats of the Navy and The Spirit of St. Louis.
On television, he guest starred on five episodes of the CBS legal drama, Perry Mason, starring Raymond Burr, including the role of murder victim Charles Sabin (and his brother Arthur) in "The Case of the Perjured Parrot," and murder victim Joseph Kraft in "The Case of the Bogus Books." He appeared five times on the NBC sitcom, Hazel, starring Shirley Booth. He also appeared on The Americans, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Leave It To Beaver, and The Munsters.TV series Gunsmoke .