NEW YORK – Danny Simon (search), a comedy writer who together with his brother, Neil, wrote for such classic 1950s television series as "Your Show of Shows," (search) has died of complications of a stroke. He was 86.
Danny Simon died Tuesday in Portland, Ore., Neil Simon (search) said Wednesday.
It was Danny Simon who mentored his younger sibling, as well as nicknaming him "Doc." They worked together in radio in the late 1940s and then in television, a period of their lives chronicled in Neil Simon's 1993 play, "Laughter on the 23rd Floor." (search)
The brothers wrote not only for "Your Show of Shows," 90 minutes of live, original comedy starring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, but also for "The Jackie Gleason Show," "The Red Buttons Show" and "The Phil Silvers Show," in which the popular comedian portrayed the conniving Army Sgt. Ernie Bilko.
It was with "Your Show of Shows" that the Simons collaborated with such legendary writers as Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, Sheldon Keller, Mel Tolkin and later Woody Allen (search), who once said, "Everything I learned about comedy, I learned from Danny Simon."
When Neil Simon grew dissatisfied with the restrictions of network TV and left to write for the theater, Danny Simon stayed in television as head writer for NBC's "Colgate Comedy Hour." He later wrote for "Make Room for Daddy," starring Danny Thomas; "Diff'rent Strokes" and "The Facts of Life," and provided material for many of Joan Rivers' appearances on "The Tonight Show."
"Danny made me laugh," Neil Simon said in a statement after his brother's death. "He made everyone laugh. He was a character (in more ways than one) in at least nine or 10 of my plays, and I'm sure he will probably be there again in many plays to come."
Danny Simon, born Dec. 18, 1918, in the Bronx, also taught comedy workshops in universities around the country. He is survived by his son, Michael Simon; his daughter, Valerie Simon; and two grandchildren.