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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Neil Simon: A Real 'Yankee Doodle Dandy'

“Everyone thinks they can write a play; you just write down what happened to you. But the art of it is drawing from all the moments of your life.” – Neil Simon
Born on the 4th of July in 1927, Simon grew up during the Great Depression, a time that was a great shaper of not only his life but also his art.  Writing “life” became the grist for his creative mill, beginning with work on comedy scripts for radio and then gravitating to the Broadway stage in the early 1960s.
As one of America’s most prolific stage and screenwriters, he has written more than 30 plays and nearly the same number of movie screenplays, earning more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer.   After breaking onto the playwriting scene with Come Blow Your Horn (in 1961), Simon won his first Tony for the long-running and one of the most widely performed plays in history, The Odd Couple. 
The first playwright to earn 15 “Best Play” awards, he also was given a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement, and won a Pulitzer Prize for his play Lost in Yonkers.    In 2006 he was named for America’s top humor award, the Mark Twain Prize.  Simon is the first living playwright to have a Broadway theater named in his honor.   
                          Literary Critic Robert Johnson said that while humor is Simon’s forte’, “(Simon’s plays) have given us a rich variety of entertaining, memorable characters who portray the human experience, often with serious themes."   Simon says his willingness to try new things has been a key to success.    “If no one ever took risks,” he said,  “Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor.”

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