John Simon, the theater, movie and music critic who died last night at 94, took erudition to another level.
Never mind that English was his fifth language — after German, Hungarian, French and Serbo-Croatian, the language of his native Yugoslavia — every review sent you to the dictionary. He could be cruel, famously so when reviewing actresses’ looks, but also loyal. Betty Buckley wrote on Facebook this morning about her “abiding gratitude for his support of my work through all of these years and his friendship.”
When Bloomberg News hired Simon as its theater critic, in 2005, after 36 years at New York magazine, arts editor Manuela Hoelterhoff assigned me the fun task of interviewing him in the book-lined Upper West Side apartment he shared with his wife, Patricia Hoag Simon. I found him to be soft-spoken, thoughtful and unapologetic, except regarding his early assessments of Stephen Sondheim and Adam Guettel. Excerpts follow.Continue Reading