Simon, Neil

Simon, Neil (Marvin Neil Simon), 1927–2018, American playwright, b. the Bronx, New York City. His plays, nearly all of them popular with audiences, if not always with critics, are comedies treating recognizable aspects of modern middle-class life. Simon spent his early years in television, pioneering the situation comedy and writing jokes for some of the medium's most successful comedians. His string of Broadway plays began with Come Blow Your Horn (1961). Particularly adept at portraying the middle-aged, Simon was a master jokesmith who built up his characters through funny lines rather than plot, although he often attempted serious themes. The Gingerbread Lady (1970), for example, deals honestly with alcoholism, and his Tony Award– and Pulitzer Prize–winning autobiographical comedy Lost in Yonkers (1991) treats the anguish of parental rejection. His other plays, many of which are semiautobiographical, include Barefoot in the Park (1963), his first Broadway success, The Odd Couple (1965, Tony Award), Plaza Suite (1968), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971), The Sunshine Boys (1972), The Good Doctor (1973), God's Favorite (1974), Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983), Biloxi Blues (1984, Tony Award), Broadway Bound (1986), Laughter on the 23d Floor (1993), and 45 Seconds from Broadway (2001), his last new Broadway play. Simon also wrote the books for several Broadway musicals, such as Sweet Charity (1966), Promises, Promises (1968), and They're Playing Our Song (1981). Many of Simon's plays have been adapted into films, often by Simon himself, and he wrote several original movies including The Heartbreak Kid (1972), Murder by Death (1976), and The Goodbye Girl (1977).

See his memoirs, Rewrites (1996) and The Play Goes On (1999)(1996, 1999); biography by R. Johnson (1985); studies by E. M. McGovern (2d ed. 1979), R. K. Johnson (1983), G. Konas, ed. (1997), H. Bloom, ed. (2002), and S. Koprince (2002).

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