The Kennedy Center will present Simon with his award Oct. 15 at 8 PM in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. The evening, which will feature a star-studded company, will be taped by WETA Washington, D.C., for nationwide broadcast in the fall.
The Mark Twain Prize, according to press notes, recognizes "people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain. As a social commentator, satirist and creator of characters, Samuel Clemens was a fearless observer of society, who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective of social injustice and personal folly. He revealed the great truth of humor when he said 'against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.'"
Simon follows previous recipients Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin and Lorne Michaels.
In a statement Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman said, "Neil Simon, like Mark Twain, has a unique way of exposing the American spirit by drawing on experiences in his own life and creating insightful and touching portraits of the world around him."
Awards recipient Simon countered, "I am awed, thrilled and delighted to receive The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize . . . it makes up for my losing the Samuel Clemens Prize." Neil Simon has authored more than 40 plays and is the recipient of three Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, a Drama Desk Award, an American Comedy Award, a Golden Globe Award and the Kennedy Center Honors. Some of his best-known works include Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple, which were both back on Broadway this past season, as well as Chapter Two, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound. He also contributed librettos to the musicals Sweet Charity; Promises, Promises; They're Playing Our Song; and The Goodbye Girl.
Tickets for the evening will go on sale Aug. 11 by calling (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324. For more information, visit www.kennedy-center.org.