Neil Simon



  • (1927 - ) US playwright, whose numerous hit comedieshave made him the most commercially successful playwright in the historyof the US theater. In the 1960s he produced six successive hits and atone time had four plays running simultaneously on Broadway. Simon usuallyfinances his own productions and invariably adapts his works for films (whichin Britain have been more successful than his plays). Reviewing his career,Simon commented, "When I was good, I was very, very good. When I wasbad, we folded."

    The son of a travelling salesman, Simon began by collaborating with hisbrother, Daniel, on sketches for revues; in 1961 they wrote their firstfull-length work Come Blow Your Horn. Simon's first solo work was thebook for the musical Little Me (1962). His string of hits began withBarefoot in the Park (1963), followed by The Odd Couple(1966), and Plaza Suite (1968), which consisted of three one-act plays.Four serious comedies followed, The Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1969),The Gingerbread Lady (1970), about an ageing alcoholic singer,The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971), about an unemployed man headingfor a breakdown, and The Sunshine Boys (1972). In 1976 he returnedto writing short farcical pieces, combining four of these in the hitCalifornia Suite. Most of his plays of this period were premieredat New York's Eugene O'Neill Theatre, which Simon owned from 1969 until 1982.

    In the 1980s Simon produced several autobiographical works,including Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983), Biloxi Blues(1985), which won a Tony Award, and Broadway Bound (1986).His more recent offerings have included Lost in Yonkers (1991),which won both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award, Laughteron the 23rd Floor (1993), and The Dinner Party (2000).

    New York's Alvin Theatre was renamed the Neil Simon Theatrein honour of the playwright in 1983.