NEW YORK – Dozens of notebooks, scripts, speeches, drafts of letters, artwork and even signed baseballs owned by the late playwright Neil Simon have been donated to the Library of Congress. The collection offers offering historians and researchers access to the creative process of American theater’s most successful and prolific playwright.
The collection includes about 7,700 items documenting the evolution of Simon's plays and screenplays, including “Barefoot in the Park,” “The Sunshine Boys,” “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Lost in Yonkers.”
The donation will be officially announced at a special event with actors Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker — both currently starring in a Broadway revival of “Plaza Suite” — and Elaine Joyce, Simon’s widow on Monday night at the Library. It will be livestreamed starting at 7 p.m. ET on the Library’s YouTube channel.
The cache includes a yellowing first act of “Barefoot in the Park,” plenty of notes for actors or directors, and over a dozen notepads filled with watercolors, drawings and cartoons by Simon. There are also several scripts for shows never completed or produced, such as one titled “The Merry Widows,” written for Bette Midler and Whoopi Goldberg.
“The donation of Simon’s papers to our nation’s library is a treasured addition to our holdings that enhances our performing arts collection as one of the best in the world. It also ensures Simon’s legacy is preserved for generations to come,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement.
Simon was nominated for 14 Tony Awards throughout his career and won three, in addition to a special prize for contribution to the theater. He also won the Pulitzer Prize, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and a Kennedy Center honor, as well as having a theater named after him on Broadway. He died in 2018 in New York City.
The donated materials range from hundreds of scripts, notes and outlines for his plays, including handwritten first drafts and multiple drafts of typescripts, to personal notebooks and signed baseballs.
The Library of Congress is already home to the collections of several Broadway icons, including Arthur Laurents, Marvin Hamlisch and Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits