Tribute: Danny Simon
Danny Simon, who died Tuesday at 86, was the real-life Felix Unger, as well as the inspiration for characters in 9 or 10 other plays by his more renowned brother, Neil Simon. As a celebrated TV comedy writer, who wrote for everything from the 1950s sitcom Make Room for Daddy to the 1980s sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, he was best known as part of the legendary stable of writers for Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, a mentor who taught several younger scribes how to write comedy — including kid brother Neil and Woody Allen.
”I learned a few things on my own since, and modified some of the things he taught me,” the Woodman once said, ”but everything, unequivocally, that I learned about comedy writing I learned from Danny Simon.” The elder Simon apparently didn’t resent his sibling’s success, since Neil immortalized him in The Odd Couple, Brighton Beach Memoirs, and several other memorable stage and screen comedies. ”There have been more plays written about me than about Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, and Julius Caesar all put together,” he joked.