Neil Simon Fast Facts

Here is a look at the life of Neil Simon, a playwright and screenwriter who has won a ...

Posted: Aug 27, 2018 10:36 AM
Updated: Aug 27, 2018 10:36 AM

Here is a look at the life of Neil Simon, a playwright and screenwriter who has won a Pulitzer Prize and three Tony Awards.

Birth date: July 4, 1927


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Death date: August 26, 2018

Birth place: The Bronx, New York

Birth name: Marvin Neil Simon

Father: Irving Simon, fabric salesman

Mother: Mamie (Levy) Simon, saleswoman at Gimbel's department store

Marriages: Elaine Joyce (September 1999-August 26, 2018, his death); Diane Lander (January 13, 1987--July, 1988, divorced; remarried, February 10, 1990--April 22, 1998, divorced); Marsha Mason (October 25, 1973-June 1983, divorced); Joan Baim (1953-1973, her death)

Children: with Diane Lander: Bryn (Lander's daughter from a previous relationship); with Joan Baim: Nancy and Ellen

Education: Attended New York University and the University of Denver

Military service: Army Air Force Reserve, 1945-1946

Other Facts:
Has won three Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Nominated for four Academy Awards.

Simon's parents had a volatile relationship. His father would periodically leave the family.

The character of Felix in "The Odd Couple" was based on Simon's older brother, Danny.

1948 - Simon and his brother Danny join the writing staff of the radio comedy show, "Texaco Star Theater," starring Milton Berle.

1952-1954 - Simon and Danny are recruited to pen jokes for the Sid Caesar TV series "Your Show of Shows."

February 22, 1961 - Simon's Broadway debut, "Come Blow Your Horn," opens at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The semi-autobiographical play chronicles the misadventures of a womanizing bachelor and his naïve younger brother. The comedy is adapted into a movie starring Frank Sinatra in 1963.

October 23, 1963 - Simon's second Broadway production, "Barefoot in the Park," opens at the Biltmore Theatre. The show, directed by Mike Nichols, stars Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley. The comedy wins a Tony for best direction and receives three nominations, including best play. It is adapted into a 1967 film, with Redford and Jane Fonda.

March 10, 1965 - "The Odd Couple" opens at the Plymouth Theatre. Walter Matthau and Art Carney lead the original cast. A 1968 movie, with Matthau and Jack Lemmon, is based on the Tony-winning show. Simon receives his first Oscar nomination for the screenplay. In 1970, "The Odd Couple" premieres on TV, starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman as bickering roommates.

January 29, 1966 - Directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, "Sweet Charity" opens on Broadway.

December 1, 1968 - Simon adapts the 1960 Billy Wilder film, "The Apartment" into a musical, "Promises, Promises," with songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It opens at the Shubert Theatre. A tune from the show, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" is recorded by Dionne Warwick.

December 17, 1972 - "The Heartbreak Kid," a film featuring Charles Grodin in his first lead role, premieres in New York. It is Simon's third (original) script written directly for the screen. The first two are "After the Fox" and "The Out-of-Towners."

June, 1976 - Simon spoofs film noir with "Murder by Death," starring Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith, Peter Falk and Truman Capote.

November, 1977 - "The Goodbye Girl," a bittersweet romantic comedy, is a box office hit. Simon earns an Oscar nomination for original screenplay and star, Richard Dreyfuss wins an Academy Award for best actor. Marsha Mason, Simon's second wife, costars.

March 27, 1983 - "Brighton Beach Memoirs," the first show in a trilogy of autobiographical plays about Simon's youth, opens on Broadway. "Biloxi Blues" and "Broadway Bound" complete the cycle.

June 29, 1983 - The Alvin Theatre on Broadway is renamed the Neil Simon Theatre midway through the run of "Brighton Beach Memoirs."

February 21, 1991 - "Lost in Yonkers" opens on Broadway. A personal story about a dysfunctional Jewish family struggling in New York during the WWII era, the play wins a Pulitzer Prize for drama and four Tony Awards.

April 9, 1995 - Simon's first play to debut Off-Broadway, "London Suite" opens at the Union Square Theatre.

October, 1996 - The playwright's showbiz memoir, "Rewrites," is published.

1999 - Simon pens a second autobiography, "The Play Goes On."

March 2, 2004 - After years of illness, Simon receives a kidney transplant. The donor is his publicist, Bill Evans.

October 15, 2006 - The Kennedy Center honors Simon with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

August 26, 2018 - Simon dies of complications from pneumonia at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York.

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