Neil Simon

Neil Simon, Playwright, NYC


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Neil Simon (born Marvin Neil Simon July 4, 1927 in The Bronx, New York City), is a Jewish American playwright and screenwriter. He is one of the most reliable hitmakers in Broadway history, as well as one of the most performed playwrights in the world.

Simon briefly attended New York University in 1946. 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. 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 his eponymous sitcom in 1959.

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 (starring former boss Caesar), 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 has also won a Pulitzer Prize in drama for Lost In Yonkers.

His prolific output includes light comedies (Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple), darker, more autobiographical works (Chapter Two, the Eugene Trilogy comprised of Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound) and books for musical comedies (Sweet Charity, Promises, Promises).

He has also written screenplays for over 20 films. These include adaptations of his own plays as well as original work, including The Out-of-Towners, Murder by Death and The Goodbye Girl. He has received four Best Screenplay Academy Award nominations.

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, whom he adopted with Lander.

Simon has an honorary L.H.D. degree from Hofstra University and an honorary D.H.C. degree from Williams College. He is the owner of the Eugene O'Neill Theatre as well as the namesake of another Broadway house.





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