CELEBRATING NEIL SIMON:
Marvin Neil Simon (July 4, 1927 – August 26, 2018) was an American playwright, screenwriter and author. He wrote more than 30 plays and nearly the same number of movie screenplays, mostly adaptations of his plays. He received many Oscar and Tony nominations.
Simon grew up in New York City during the Great Depression. After a few years in the Army Air Force Reserve he began writing comedy scripts for radio and some popular early television shows. Among them were Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows from 1950 (Alongside other young writers including Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks and Selma Diamond.)
He began writing his own plays Come Blow Your Horn (1961), Barefoot in the Park (1963), The Odd Couple (1965), for which he won a Tony Award. Many became movies. (Among his writing: 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, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Sweet Charity, The Star-Spangled Girl, The Sunshine Boys, Promises Promises, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Lost in Yonkers (1991), Simon was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
“Lost in Yonkers” film trailer (Columbia Pictures)
The prisoner of Second Avenue: Excerpt from the musical score for the film “The Prisoner of 2nd Ave” (Film, 1975) — by Marvin Hamlisch:
“Simon creates an atmosphere of casual cataclysm, an everyday urban purgatory of copelessness from which laughter seems to be released like vapor from the city’s manholes” — The New York Times. (Excerpt from the review for the film “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” )
Honors and recognition
Simon held three honorary degrees; a Doctor of Humane Letters from Hofstra University, a Doctor of Letters from Marquette University and a Doctor of Law from Williams College. In 1983 Simon became the only living playwright to have a New York theatre named after him. The Alvin Theatre on Broadway was renamed the Neil Simon Theatre in his honor, and he was an honorary member of the Walnut Street Theatre’s board of trustees. Also in 1983, Simon was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
The Neil Simon Festival is a professional summer repertory theatre devoted to preserving the works of Simon and his contemporaries. The Neil Simon Festival was founded by Richard Dean Bugg in 2003 and performs at the Heritage Center Theater in Cedar City, Utah.
In 2006, Simon received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
RIP Neil Simon. Team Marvin Hamlisch.