Born on the 4th of July, writer Neil Simon has, for the past five and a half decades, offered a unique, empathic and humorous look into the American character through the genres of film, television, and theatre.
Mr. Simon has produced more Broadway hits than any other playwright. (In fact, he once had four plays on Broadway at the same time!) Although he is probably best known for his characters Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison from The Odd Couple, other plays such as Plaza Suite, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, The Gingerbread Lady and The Prisoner of Second Avenue have assisted in making him the wealthiest dramatist in history.
Marvin Neil Simon was born in 1927, in the Bronx, New York. He started writing comedy for television in the 1950's. It wasn't until the late 1950's that he decided to switch his allegiance, and write for the theatre instead. In 1961 his first full-fledged stage play, Come Blow Your Horn, opened on Broadway. Even though it was received with mixed reviews, it ran for two seasons. But it wasn't until the success of his second play, Barefoot in the Park (1963), that he could lay claim to a runaway hit.
Neil Simon's early plays were hugely successful at the box office, but not so with some critics, who said his one-liners outweighed the development of character and plot. The semi-autobiographical trilogy - Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues (in which the issue of anti-Semitism is handled) and Broadway Bound changed those views, however.
In 1983 Brighton Beach Memoirs won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for best play. Neil Simon was again acknowledged that year when a Broadway theatre was given his name. It was the first time such an honor had been bestowed on a living playwright.
As well as his early television and stage successes, Neil Simon has had a writing hand in several musicals including, Sweet Charity and Promises, Promises. He was also responsible for writing the original screen play for many films including The Goodbye Girl, Murder by Death and The Out-of-Towners.
Mr. Simon is credited with 38 plays, the most recent of which, Rose's Dilemma, opened in 2003. He is also credited with numerous screenplays for both the big screen and for television.
The Neil Simon Festival in Cedar City , Utah is the world's first on-going festival dedicated to honoring and preserving his works.
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Banner Photos: (from left) Jan Broberg as Daisy, Clarence Gilyard as Hoke in Driving Miss Daisy —2013 tour (Photo by Blake M. Farmer); Benjamin Harris as Captain Bicycle in Song-Poems Wanted! - the Musical—2013 (Photo by John Harris); Errol Jones as Bernie, Chrystine Potter Hyatt as Zelda in 45 Seconds from Broadway—2013 (Photo by Tedric Garrison); Eddie Mekka as Willy Clark in The Sunshine Boys—2013 (Garrison); David Meyers as Uncle Louie in Lost in Yonkers—2013 (Garrison)
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