Neil Simon Additional Biography


ph_0111205466-Simon_N.jpg Neil Simon. Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Early Life

Son of a Bronx garment salesman who abandoned the family several times, Marvin Neil Simon learned independence early. After brief duty in the Air Force Reserve, Simon joined his brother Danny writing comedy for radio and the new medium of television. In 1953, he married Joan Baim, with whom he had two daughters. Throughout the fifties, the Simon brothers wrote for increasingly prestigious shows, culminating in the classic Your Show of Shows, for which Simon won an Emmy Award in 1957. Simon won a second Emmy in 1959 for his work on the Sergeant Bilko show, confirming a reputation as one of the top writers in television.

The 1960’s

The Broadway production in 1961 of his first full-length play, Come Blow Your Horn, was the first in a string of nine hit comedies in as many years in Simon’s most prolific decade. Each of Simon’s nine plays of the 1960’s explores different aspects of life in that decade. The first four all share a common motif of mismatched couples, a theme receiving its classical expression in Simon’s most famous work, The Odd Couple (1965). In Come Blow Your Horn, the mismatched pair are brothers, one hedonistic, the other straight-laced. Little Me (1962), though Simon’s contribution was merely fleshing out an existing plot, concerns the misalliance of a poor girl and a high-society bachelor. Barefoot in the Park (1963) contrasts a fun-loving new bride and her staid new husband. The remaining five plays look at different implications of the sexual revolution: Sweet Charity (1966) presents the modern myth of the whore with the heart of gold, and The Star Spangled Girl (1966) the opposite extreme in the wholesome Midwestern virgin pursued by a libertine. In Promises, Promises (1968), an innocent bystander of the sexual revolution offers his bachelor apartment to his libidinous boss; Plaza Suite (1968) is a triptych of scenes in the same hotel room, two of them involving adulterous affairs. The Last of the Red- Hot Lovers (1969) is also a trio of vignettes, this time of a single male character who attempts to seduce a different woman in each scene.

The tremendous success of these comedies led to lucrative screen versions of Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple, for which Simon wrote the screenplays but had little to no control over the final product. Simon considered his collaboration with Italian screen writer Cesar Zavatini on After the Fox (1966) to be marred by Simon’s lack of control; Zavatini and the director spoke no English.

Later Life

Many reviewers doubted that Simon could keep up the play-a-year pace he established in the 1960’s, but through the 1970’s, he averaged nearly two a year, eight stage comedies and eleven screenplays. The 1980’s saw Simon’s plays become increasingly serious, particularly the autobiographical trilogy Brighton Beach Memoirs (1982), Biloxi Blues (1984), and Broadway Bound (1986). Critical acceptance came at last with these plays, as well as Lost in Yonkers,which won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.


Simon’s comedies dominated the stage in the 1960’s not only by outlasting the competition but also by begging imitation. The attention Simon received for such...

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(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Marvin Neil Simon was born in the Bronx, New York, on July 4, 1927. His father, Irving, was a salesman in Manhattan’s garment district; his mother, Mamie, worked at Gimbel’s department store. The family moved to Washington Heights in northern Manhattan when Simon was young. The family’s life was not always tranquil. Irving was an errant husband who occasionally abandoned the family altogether, leaving Mamie, a frustrated and bitter woman, alone to deal with Neil and his older brother, Danny. Eventually, the parents were divorced, and Neil went to live with relatives in Queens. From an early age, he exhibited a quick wit and an active imagination. He earned the nickname “Doc”—which stayed with him into adult...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

From the early 1960’s into the early twenty-first century, Neil Simon has dominated the popular theater in America. His seemingly endless string of well-made comedies has provided him with both popular recognition and tremendous wealth. He is the son of Irving Simon, a garment salesman, and Mamie Simon. As a young child, Simon remembers sitting on a stone ledge watching a Charlie Chaplin film. He laughed so hard that he fell off the ledge and had to be taken to the doctor’s office. This incident would define for Simon the true meaning of comedy: “to make a whole audience fall onto the floor.” Simon graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in 1943 and entered New York University as an engineering student under the U.S. Army...

(The entire section is 1196 words.)


Simon was born on July 4, 1927, in the Bronx, New York. His father, Irving, worked as a garment salesman. Irving Simon's job forced him to...

(The entire section is 510 words.)


Neil Simon (full name Marvin Neil Simon) was born on July 4, 1927, in the Bronx, New York City. He grew up there and made it the setting for...

(The entire section is 409 words.)


Simon was born on July 4, 1927, in Bronx, New York. Simon attended two universities, New York University (1944-1945) and the University of...

(The entire section is 298 words.)


Neil Simon in 1988 Published by Gale Cengage

Neil Simon was born on July 4, 1927, in the Bronx, New York, the younger son of a father who sold cloth fabric to the dress manufacturers in...

(The entire section is 437 words.)


Neil Simon was born on July 4, 1927, in the Bronx, New York, to Irving, a garment salesman, and Mamie Simon. He grew up in Washington...

(The entire section is 351 words.)