Neil Simon: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Neil Simon
Neil Simon NYWTS.jpg
Photograph from 1966
Born Marvin Neil Simon
July 4, 1927 (1927-07-04) (age 82)
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Occupation Playwright, writer, academic
Nationality American
Alma mater New York University[citation needed]
University of Denver[citation needed]
Spouse Elaine Joyce (1999-present)
Diane Lander (1990-1998)
Marsha Mason (1973-1981)
Joan Baim (1953-1973)
Child(ren) Ellen, Nancy, Bryn (adopted)
Period 1961 – present
Genre Comedy
Notable work(s) Brighton Beach Memoirs
Biloxi Blues
Magnum opus Lost in Yonkers
The Odd Couple
Awards Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1991)

Neil Simon (born July 4, 1927) is an American playwright and screenwriter. His numerous Broadway successes have led to his work being among the most regularly performed in the world. Though primarily a comic writer, some of his plays, particularly the Eugene Trilogy and The Sunshine Boys, reflect on the twentieth century Jewish-American experience.




Early Years

Born Marvin Neil Simon on July 4, 1927 in The Bronx, New York City to Mamie and Irving Simon, a garment salesman. He was their second son and he grew up in Washington Heights, Manhattan in the Great Depression. His father would frequently leave the family, casting financial and emotional woes on the family. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School and graduated at the age of sixteen.[1]

Early Career

He briefly attended New York University from 1944 to 1945, where he was enlisted in the Army Air Force Reserve training program. He was assigned to Lowry Air Force Base in 1945 and attended the University of Denver from 1945 to 1946. He was a sports editor for the military magazine Rev-Meter.

In 1946, he was discharged as a corporal. Two years later, he quit his job as a mailroom clerk in the Warner Brothers offices in Manhattan to write radio and television scripts with his brother Danny Simon, including a tutelage under radio humourist Goodman Ace when Ace ran a short-lived writing workshop for CBS. They wrote for the radio show The Robert Q. Lewis Show and for the television show The Phil Silvers Show.

Their revues for Camp Tamiment in Pennsylvania in the early 1950s caught the attention of Sid Caesar, who hired the duo for his popular TV comedy series Your Show of Shows. Simon later incorporated their experiences into his play Laughter on the 23rd Floor. His work won him two Emmy Award nominations and the appreciation of Phil Silvers, who hired him to write for Sergeant Bilko in 1959.[2]

Writing Career

In 1961, Simon's first Broadway play, Come Blow Your Horn, opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where it ran for 678 performances. Six weeks after its closing, his second production, the musical Little Me opened to mixed reviews. Although it failed to attract a large audience, it earned Simon his first Tony Award nomination. Overall, he has garnered seventeen Tony nominations and won three. He also won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Lost In Yonkers.

In 1966 Simon had four shows running on Broadway at the same time: Sweet Charity, The Star-Spangled Girl, The Odd Couple, and Barefoot in the Park. His professional association with producer Emanuel Azenberg began with The Sunshine Boys in 1972 and continued with The Good Doctor, God's Favorite, Chapter Two, They're Playing Our Song, I Ought to Be in Pictures, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, Broadway Bound, Jake's Women, The Goodbye Girl, and Laughter on the 23rd Floor, among others.

Simon also has written screenplays for more than twenty films. These include adaptations of his own plays and original work too, including The Out-of-Towners, Murder by Death and The Goodbye Girl. He has received four Best Screenplay Academy Award nominations.

Simon has been conferred with two honoris causa degrees; a Doctor of Humane Letters from Hofstra University and a Doctor of Laws from Williams College.[3] He is the namesake of the legitimate Broadway theater the Neil Simon Theatre, formerly the Alvin Theatre, and an honorary member of the Walnut Street Theatre's board of trustees.

Personal life

Simon has been married five times, to dancer Joan Baim (1953-1973), actress Marsha Mason (1973-1981), twice to Diane Lander (1987-1988 and 1990-1998), and currently actress Elaine Joyce. He is the father of Nancy and Ellen, from his first marriage, and Bryn, Lander's daughter from a previous relationship whom he adopted.





Further reading

  • Simon, Neil (1996). Neil Simon Rewrites: A Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-82672-0. 
  • Simon, Neil (1999). Neil Simon The Play Goes On: A Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-84691-8. 


  1. ^ Kipen, David. "Flawed look at career of blacklisted director", San Francisco Chronicle, August 29, 2001. Accessed September 14, 2009. "The American 20th century went to high school at DeWitt Clinton High in the Bronx. Multicultural before there was a name for it -- at least a polite one --Clinton nurtured such diverse and influential figures as Bill Graham, James Baldwin, George Cukor, Neil Simon and Abraham Lincoln Polonsky."
  2. ^ Ayling, Ronald (2003). Twentieth-Century American Dramatists: Fourth Series.. Detroit, Michigan: Gale. ISBN 978-0-7876-6010-9. 
  3. ^ The Associated Press (4 June 1984). "Neil Simon Takes His Honorary LL.D with a Grain of Salt". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-14. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

If you can go through life without ever experiencing pain you probably haven't been born yet.

Marvin Neil Simon (born 1927-07-04) is an American playwright and screenwriter, known for his hugely successful and often bittersweet comedies.

See also Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Goodbye Girl, Murder by Death, and The Odd Couple.


  • Take care of him. And make him feel important. And if you can do that, you'll have a happy and wonderful marriage…Like two out of every ten couples.
    • Mother, in Barefoot in the Park (1963); cited from The Collected Plays of Neil Simon (New York: New American Library, 1986) vol. 1, p. 207.
  • And so she lived…hopefully…ever after.
    • Sweet Charity (1966); cited from The Collected Plays of Neil Simon (New York: Random House, 1991) vol. 3, p. 113.
  • Money brings some happiness. But after a certain point, it just brings more money.
  • You're welcome to take a bath. You look like the second week of the garbage strike.
    • Evy, in The Gingerbread Lady (1970); cited from The Collected Plays of Neil Simon (New York: Random House, 1971) vol. 2, p. 76.
  • There are two million interesting people in New York and only seventy-eight in Los Angeles.
    • Interviewed in Playboy, February 1979.
  • People with honorary awards are looked upon with disfavor. Would you let an honorary mechanic fix your brand-new Mercedes?
  • Everyone thinks they can write a play; you just write down what happened to you. But the art of it is drawing from all the moments of your life.
  • If you can go through life without ever experiencing pain you probably haven't been born yet. And if you've gone through pain and think you know exactly why, you haven't examined all the options.
    • The Play Goes On (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999) p. 260.

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