An American playwright, screenwriter, and author who wrote over 30 plays turning many of them into screenplays himself can only be the description of one man. He alone received more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer to this day. This man is none other than Neil Simon.
Neil Simon is a legend within the world of theater. Many playwrights are deemed successful if one of their plays make it to the big stage/screen, but Simon defied these odds creating many. His contributions to the theater will live on in the minds of many for years to come. Many of his contributions included plays such as Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, and Brighton Beach Memoirs. In addition to plays, many of his musicals in which he collaborated on were a success as well including Little Me, Sweet Charity, and Promises, Promises. He wrote theatrical pieces ranging in genre from romance to comedy to drama. There was no limit to Mr. Simon’s talents.
An unfortunate announcement shocked the Broadway world when news of Mr. Neil Simon’s death on August 26th, 2018 was released. Neil Simon died of complications from pneumonia at the age of 91.
Neil Simon might be gone but he will not be forgotten. He was quoted as saying in 2006, “making a connection with millions of people is pretty good.” Broadway paid tribute to Mr. Simon on August 30th, four days after his death with a beautiful send-off from the “Great White Way.” Theatres throughout the Theatre District, which were once illuminated with Neil Simon’s name or the name of his works, all dimmed their marquee lights in unison.
His life was a celebration of theatre and this is how he should be remembered. The following are fun facts about Neil Simon that not everyone may know.
- He was married 5 times but to only 4 different women. He remarried Diane Lander after a two-year divorce.
- Simon’s wife threatened to leave him if he didn’t collaborate on Sweet Charity.
- In 1966, Simon had four shows on Broadway running simultaneously: Sweet Charity, The Star-Spangled Girl, The Odd Couple, and Barefoot in the Park.
- In 1983, the Alvin Theatre become the Neil Simon Theatre. No other playwright got to see a Broadway theater named after themselves because it is usually done after a person has died.
- Simon won three Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.