Comedy writer Danny Simon, brother of playwright Neil Simon, died July 26 in Portland, Ore. of heart failure. He was 86.
Born in New York, the soft-spoken writer got his start in showbiz when he was discovered writing for a department store’s annual show. He began writing for the stage and in 1950, became a writer for Sid Caesar’s early live comedy series “Your Show of Shows.” He brought younger brother Neil into the influential group of writers which included Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Larry Gelbart. Reiner recalls that Danny Simon was “a good teacher, a good director and a very funny guy on his own.” Woody Allen has been quoted as saying “Danny Simon taught me how to be funny.”
An accomplished theater director, he also contributed sketches to Broadway shows including “New Faces of 1956” and “Catch a Star.”
He served as inspiration for the Felix character in Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” and also helped inspire plays including “Come Blow Your Horn,” “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Lost in Yonkers.” Simon also wrote for “The Phil Silvers Show,” “My Three Sons,” “The Carol Burnett Show,” “The Mac Davis Show,” “The Kraft Music Hall” and “Diff’rent Strokes.”
After retiring from writing for TV, he traveled the world teaching comedy writing.
He is survived by his brother, a son, a daughter and two grandchildren.