b. Marvin Neil Simon, 4 July 1927, the Bronx, New York City, New York, USA. After leaving university Simon wrote for Sid Caesar’s Your Show Of Shows. From the early 60s he wrote for Broadway and many of his plays and musicals were then transferred to the screen. Critics have often questioned the depth of Simon’s writing but his work has proved popular with a wide demographic.
Early hits were Come Blow Your Horn (1961/film 1963) and Little Me (1962), his book based on Patrick Dennis’ novel. With music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, and starring Caesar, the show ran for 257 performances. Other plays/films of the 60s are Barefoot In The Park (1963/film 1967) and The Odd Couple (1966/1968), Tony Award winner as Best Playwright. At Bob Fosse’s suggestion, he based his book for Sweet Charity (1966/1969) on an Italian film, Le Notti Di Cabiria (1957). With music by Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields, the show ran for 608 performances. Late 60s works were Plaza Suite (1968/film 1971), Promises, Promises (1968), for which Simon based his book on the 1960 film, The Apartment. With music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David, the show ran for 1, 281 performances and had a London run of 560 performances. In the 70s were The Gingerbread Lady (1970/film 1981, entitled Only When I Laugh), The Prisoner Of Second Avenue (1971/1975), The Sunshine Boys (1972/1975), California Suite (1976/1978), The Goodbye Girl (film 1977/television 2004), Chapter Two (1977/1979) and They’re Playing Our Song (1979). The latter, a Broadway musical with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, ran for over 1, 000 performances and did well in London.
In the mid-80s came Simon’s trilogy Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983/1986), Biloxi Blues (1985/1988), and Tony Award as Best Play, Broadway Bound (1986). In the 90s were the film screenplay The Marrying Man (1991) and Lost In Yonkers (1991/1993), the latter winning a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize as Best Play. The former resulted in a feud between Simon, the producers and the stars Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, following which Simon announced he would no longer write for Hollywood (though he did adapt Lost In Yonkers two years later). In 1993 he adapted his screenplay for The Goodbye Girl into a stage musical. With music by Hamlisch, lyrics by David Zippel, and starring Bernadette Peters and Martin Short it ran for 188 performances. His stage plays Jake’s Woman and London Suite were revived on television in 1996. Simon was nominated for Best Screenplay Oscars for The Odd Couple, The Sunshine Boys, The Goodbye Girl and California Suite. In the early 00s came 45 Seconds From Broadway (2001), as well as revivals of Sweet Charity and The Odd Couple (both 2005).