Remembering Ted Simons

Ted Simons’ death this week was a loss to the musical world.

It was a loss to Westport as well.

The 84-year-old longtime resident was a Broadway, television, film and cabaret musical director, composer and arranger. He created shows and films for more than 100 companies, including IBM, GE, Ford and Procter & Gamble.

He composed music for “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Anything Goes.” He worked on the Miss America Pageant, “Hullabaloo,” and TV specials with Barbra Streisand, Ethel Merman and Paul Anka.

Simons was a conductor and arranger for Bob Hope, Roberta Peters, the Four  Seasons, Shari Lewis, Leslie Uggams, Julius La Rosa and many others. He was the orchestra leader at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.

Ted Simons

But he was just as active in Westport. Never one to turn down a request, he volunteered as musical director and conductor for many school shows, at Greens Farms Academy, and with the Y’s Men’s Hoot Owls singing group.

In 2009 the Senior Center honored him with a lifetime achievement award, for all he’d done for his community.

Buell Neidlinger — who grew up in Westport in the 1940s and ’50s, and is a very accomplished musician in his own right — worked on recording sessions with Simons.

“He was the consummate — maybe the most artistically able — producer/director of what we used to call ‘Big Splash TV,” Neidlinger — who now lives in Washington state — recalls.

“You don’t see those shows much anymore, on account of the expense. Some guys in his position were vicious. But he was the nicest and kindest guy.”

Working on “The Producers” with Simons was, Neidlinger says, “unbridled hilarity. Ted knew just how to respond to Mel Brooks’ constant interrupting joking. He kept everyone laughing Mel liked that! At the same time he kept the music going onto the tape — the producers liked that! It was quite a feat.”

There will be no funeral service. Instead, he asked, “Please sing or play a chorus of George Gershwin’s ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me,’ in a slow tempo.”

10 responses to “Remembering Ted Simons

  1. Rozanne Gates

    One of the many blessings about living in Westport is meeting people like Ted. A few years ago, my wonderful wife, Suzanne Sheridan, celebrated a milestone birthday on October 30 and we had planned a large, catered party at the house. Then “Snowtober” happened and we were all snowed in. In spite of the foot of snow outside, Ted showed up at the party to play piano. A few others showed up, too, on that Saturday, and we were all treated to the amazing joy of Ted Simons at the piano. When we invited Ted to come to the party, he asked if he could play. It was actually the best gift Suzanne received and we will never, ever forget that.

  2. Moving to Westport many years ago meant meeting a variety of unique characters. Ted Simons is one of the most memorable.

  3. Sylvia Robinson Corrigan

    I remember Ted Simons as that kind and willing musician as you described him. He answered my invitation to come and play the piano at my mother’s, (Peggy Robinson of Weston), 70th birthday celebration – it was awhile back, in 1998. I recognized him as well known, but did not know of all the credits he earned in musical theater composition!

  4. Carolyn Kemp Marcato

    Ted was a wonderful friend and mentor to me for many years. Even after I “retired “ from the theater world, he remained an important person in my life. So many wonderful memories. “They can’t take that away from me. . .”

  5. You could be a ‘hoot owl’ 😘

    Sent from my iPad


  6. The way you wear your hat
    The way your sip your tea
    The memory of all that
    No, no, they can’t take that away from me

    The way your smile just beams
    The way you sing off key
    The way you haunt my dreams
    No, no, they can’t take that away from me

    (this is a fragment of the lyrics)
    ADW Staples 1956

  7. My Dad, Bill Mostad, was a member of the Hoot Owls with Ted. My husband and I got married in Mom and Dad’s back yard in 2001. Ted was kind enough to play the piano at my wedding. I will always remember my Father-Daughter dance with my Dad and my first dance with my husband – all with Ted ‘tickling the ivories’. He was a very kind and generous man.

  8. Heaven is blessed with your music. Rest In Peace my friend.

  9. Bobbie Herman

    Not only was Ted a remarkable musician, who could play any song ever written (and some that hadn’t been) by ear, he was a delightful person. He kept many of us laughing with his quips and jokes and was generous with his time, performing for many nonprofit organizations. I will mss him. All of us who knew him will.

  10. I am saddened to hear about the passing of Ted Simons. He accompanied me in a couple of my recitals while in high school in the 90s. What a wonderful positive fun energy he was. Rest in peace Ted.