Name at birth: Marvin Neil Simon
The author of The Odd Couple, Neil Simon is a playwright whose Broadway plays and Hollywood movie adaptations have made him one of the most financially successful comedy writers in history.
Neil Simon began his career as a TV writer for Sid Caesar and Phil Silvers in the 1950s. His 1961 play Come Blow Your Horn was a hit, and during the 1960s Broadway was dominated by Neil Simon comedies, middlebrow gagfests flavored by his New York Jewish upbringing.
During the 1960s and '70s, Simon was a hit-making machine, writing successful plays for Broadway and then adapting them for the Hollywood screen. A Tony winner for The Odd Couple (1965), Biloxi Blues (1985) and Lost in Yonkers (1991), Simon is also a four-time Oscar nominee, for The Odd Couple (1968), The Sunshine Boys (1975), The Goodbye Girl (1977) and California Suite (1978). He also won a Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for the play Lost in Yonkers.
Awards aside, Neil Simon's real accomplishment is as a ticket seller and not as a critics' darling. For three decades he was a guaranteed box office name on Broadway and in Hollywood. During the 1990s a little of the shine wore off and his plays became Off-Broadway. Likewise, Hollywood's enthusiasm for Simon's Borscht-belt comedy waned.
In recent years most productions of his work have been stage revivals or TV movies. His work includes the movie The Heartbreak Kid (1972) and the plays Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983) and Biloxi Blues (1985, both breakout stage roles for young Matthew Broderick as Eugene Jerome, an autobiographical stand-in for Neil Simon).