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Also Known As: Marvin Neil Simon Died:
Born: July 4, 1927 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Bronx, New York, USA Profession: playwright, screenwriter, producer, author

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A staff writer on the signature comedy series of television's infancy, "Your Show of Shows" (NBC, 1950-54), Neil Simon went on to establish himself as one of Broadway's most prolific and consistent hit makers. Over the course of four decades, a Simon play or musical opened most seasons on Broadway and were often turned into major motion pictures within a couple of years, including "Barefoot in the Park" (1967), "The Out-of-Towners" (1969), "The Sunshine Boys" (1975) and "California Suite" (1978). Simon also wrote his share of original screenplays, such as the mystery spoof "Murder By Death" (1976) and the charming romantic comedy "Seems Like Old Times" (1980), though it was largely his stage work that earned him his reputation. Perhaps his most enduring creation was "The Odd Couple," which was a play in 1965, a film in 1968 and a television show that ran five seasons starting in 1970, while over the decades popping up in other incarnations. In the 1980s, Simon began a series of semi-autobiographical coming-of-age plays focused on his alleged alter-ego, Eugene Jerome. Dubbed the Eugene Trilogy, the plays consisted of "Brighton Beach Memoirs" (1983), "Biloxi Blues" (1985) and "Broadway Bound" (1986),...

A staff writer on the signature comedy series of television's infancy, "Your Show of Shows" (NBC, 1950-54), Neil Simon went on to establish himself as one of Broadway's most prolific and consistent hit makers. Over the course of four decades, a Simon play or musical opened most seasons on Broadway and were often turned into major motion pictures within a couple of years, including "Barefoot in the Park" (1967), "The Out-of-Towners" (1969), "The Sunshine Boys" (1975) and "California Suite" (1978). Simon also wrote his share of original screenplays, such as the mystery spoof "Murder By Death" (1976) and the charming romantic comedy "Seems Like Old Times" (1980), though it was largely his stage work that earned him his reputation. Perhaps his most enduring creation was "The Odd Couple," which was a play in 1965, a film in 1968 and a television show that ran five seasons starting in 1970, while over the decades popping up in other incarnations. In the 1980s, Simon began a series of semi-autobiographical coming-of-age plays focused on his alleged alter-ego, Eugene Jerome. Dubbed the Eugene Trilogy, the plays consisted of "Brighton Beach Memoirs" (1983), "Biloxi Blues" (1985) and "Broadway Bound" (1986), with the former two being turned into mildly successful feature films. After years as an unbridled hit maker, Simon earned the overwhelming respect of critics with "Lost in Yonkers" (1991), which earned him a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for drama. Though his success tapered off in his later years, Simon remained the most important playwright of the latter-half of the 20th century.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Pitch, The (1996) Himself
2.
 Jack Lemmon: America's Everyman (1996) Interviewee
3.
 Intimate Portrait: Doris Roberts (2002) Interviewee
4.
 Matthew Broderick (2001) Interviewee
5.
 Burt Bacharach (2001) Interviewee
7.
 Jackie Gleason: The Great One (2001) Interviewee
8.
 Intimate Portrait: Marsha Mason (1999) Interviewee
9.
 Alan Alda: More Than Mr. Nice Guy (1997) Interviewee
10.
 Jack Lemmon (1996)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1945:
Served with US Army Air Force
:
Wrote comedy material for radio with brother Danny
:
Was a staff writer on "Your Shows of Shows", starring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca
:
Wrote for "The Phil Silvers Show/You'll Never Get Rich"
1955:
First writing for stage, collaborated with brother on material for the Broadway revue "Catch a Star"
:
Was a staff writer on the TV series "Stanley", starring Buddy Hackett
1961:
First produced play, "Come Blow Your Horn"; adapted for film in 1963
1962:
Wrote the book for the Broadway musical, "Little Me", starring Sid Caesar
1965:
Sold the stage rights to "Barefoot in the Park" and the ancillary rights to "The Odd Couple" to Paramount Pictures for $125,000, possibly the worst business decision of career; received no money from the popular "The Odd Couple" TV series (ABC, 1970-1975), starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall
1966:
First screenplay, "After the Fox", adapted from his story
1967:
First film as associate producer, "Barefoot in the Park"; also scripted
1968:
Wrote book for musical "Promises, Promises", based on the classic Billy Wilder film "The Apartment"
1968:
Garnered first Oscar nomination for adapting "The Odd Couple"; film teamed Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau
1972:
First screenplay not based on own work, "The Heartbreak Kid", adapted from a Bruce Jay Friedman short story
1975:
Garnered second Oscar nomination for screenplay for "The Sunshine Boys"
1977:
First of five screenplays starring second wife Marsha Mason, "The Goodbye Girl"; received third Academy Award nomination
1978:
Earned last Oscar nomination (to date) for adapting "California Suite"
1982:
Wrote first of trilogy of autobiographical plays, "Brighton Beach Memoirs"
1985:
Second play in trilogy "Biloxi Blues", about his miliatary experiences, received Tony as Best Play
1986:
Third play in trilogy "Broadway Bound" focused on early success as a comedy writer
1991:
Received Pulitzer Prize in Drama for "Lost in Yonkers", a semi-autobiographical work
1992:
"Neil Simon's 'Broadway Bound'" produced for ABC-TV; first adaptation of a Simon play made directly for TV
1993:
"Laughter on the 23rd Floor", based on his experience writing for Sid Caesar, opened on Broadway starring Nathan Lane
1994:
Created stir in theater world when he opted to allow new play "London Suite" to be produced Off-Broadway, citing economics of producing original non-musical work on Broadway
1997:
30th play, "Proposals", featuring his first major black character, opened and closed on Broadway; the revival of "The Sunshine Boys" exhibited more staying power with a run in excess of six months, due in no small part to the chemistry of its stars Randall and Klugman
1998:
Wrote film sequel "The Odd Couple II", which sank at the box office despite the presence of Matthau and Lemmon
1998:
Remake of "The-Out-of-Towners", based on his original screenplay, starred Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn in the roles once played by Lemmon and Sandy Dennis
2000:
Had new play "The Dinner Party" open on Broadway
2001:
Adapted semi-autobiographical play about working on "Your Show of Show" for Showtime as "Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor"
2001:
Returned to Broadway with the comedy "45 Seconds From Broadway"; was unable to attend opening night due to back surgery
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

New York University: New York , New York -
DeWitt Clinton High School: Bronx , New York - 1944

Notes

"To be honest, the only time I ever felt rich was when I was 19 and got my first job writing for 'The Phil Silvers Show'. When my brother Danny and I were hired, they told us we'd get $200 a week.

"We went home and thought, 'Wow! A hundred dollars a week apiece! This is incredible!' Then we got our first check and it was for $200 a week--each. Well, I thought I was Rockefeller. After that, I never thought about money. It just kept coming and coming." --Neil Simon quoted in DAILY NEWS, October 6, 1996

"Not a line of 'Brighton Beach Memoirs' or 'Broadway Bound' was ever uttered in real life. Eugene O'Neill really wrote autobiographical plays; there's way too much emphasis on the autographical part [of mine] . . .

"My theory is, if it comes out of your mind, in some ways it's autobiographical. Or semi-autobiographical, but people assume mistakenly that it all happened to you . . .

"I really don't know where some of the things come from. All the twists and turns are a surprise." --Simon to NEWSDAY, November 2, 1997

Wednesday, March 3, 2004, Neil Simon received a kidney transplant courtesy of his friend and longtime press representative Bill Evans

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Joan Baim. Dancer. Born c. 1932; married on September 30, 1953; died of bone cancer in 1973.
wife:
Marsha Mason. Actor. Married on October 25, 1973; divorced in October 1983.
wife:
Diane Lander-Simon. Married in January 1987; divorced in July 1988; remarried in February 1990; filed for divorce in February 1992 but reconciled; met in 1985 when she was handing out perfume samples at the Beverly Hills Neiman Marcus store; again filed for divorce in April 1998.
wife:
Elaine Joyce. Actor, singer. Born on December 19, 1945; widow of performer Bobby Van; with whom she had two children; reportedly also had a liaison with author J D Salinger; married on September 3, 1999.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Irving Simon. Garment salesman.
mother:
Mamie Simon.
brother:
Danny Simon. Writer. Born c. 1919; gave his brother an unfinished script which became "The Odd Couple".
daughter:
Ellen Simon. Writer. Born in 1957; mother, Joan Baim; first film script "Moonlight and Valentino" produced in 1995.
daughter:
Nancy Simon. Writer. Born c. 1963; mother, Joan Baim.
daughter:
Bryn Simon. Adopted; mother, Diane Lander.
step-son:
Michael Levoff. Born c. 1984; son of Elaine Joyce.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Rewrites: A Memoir" Simon & Schuster
"The Play Goes On, A Memoir"

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