NEW YORK – Joanna Simon, an acclaimed mezzo-soprano, Emmy-winning television correspondent and one of the three singing Simon sisters, who also includes pop star Carly, has died at the age of 85.
Simon, the eldest of four, died on Wednesday, just a day before her sister Lucy died, according to Lucy’s daughter Julie Simon. Her brother Peter, a photographer, died in 2018 at the age of 71. All three had cancer.
“For the last two days, I’ve been by my mother’s and Aunt Joanna’s side and watched them transition into the next world. I don’t really get it,” Julie wrote on Facebook.
Joanna Simon, who died of thyroid cancer, rose to fame in the opera world and as a concert singer in the 1960s. She was a frequent guest on TV talk shows. After retiring from singing, she became a cultural correspondent for PBS’s “MacNeil Teacher News Hour,” where she won an Emmy in 1991 for a report on mental illness and creativity.
“I am filled with sadness to speak about the deaths of Joanna and Lucy Simon. Your loss will be long and haunting. As sad as this day is, it is impossible to mourn for them without celebrating the incredible lives they have lived,” Carly Simon said in a statement on Saturday.
She added: “We were three sisters who not only paved paths and marked courses for each other. We were each other’s secret parts. The co-keepers of each other’s memories.”
Joanna Simon was married to writer and journalist Gerald Walker from 1976 until his death in 2004. She was Walter Cronkite’s partner from 2005 until his death in 2009.
She made her professional stage debut in 1962 as Cherubino in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with the New York City Opera. That year she won the Marian Anderson Award for Promising Young Singer. Simon recorded a range of materials. As a concert singer, she drew on the classical and contemporary songs of her time.
The siblings were born to publishing giant Richard Simon and his wife Andrea. Carly and Lucy once performed as the Simon Sisters and opened folk clubs for other acts in Greenwich Village.
Lucy Simon was a composer who received a Tony nomination in 1991 for her work on the long-running Broadway musical The Secret Garden. She died Thursday at her home in Piedmont, New York, a family spokesman said. Simon had breast cancer.
She was 82.
While Carly Simon found success with hits like “Anticipation,” “Haven’t Got Time for the Pain,” and “You’re So Vain,” Lucy went to nursing school.
After marrying and having children, she recorded two solo albums, Lucy Simon (1975) and Stolen Time (1977) for RCA. Lucy and her husband David Levine produced two Grammy-winning children’s albums, In Harmony (1981) and In Harmony 2 (1983).
The Secret Garden, with a book by Marsha Norman, opened in New York in 1991. Reviews were mixed, but it won a Tony for Best Book from a Musical and ran for nearly two years.
Her return to Broadway in 2015’s Doctor Zhivago was less successful. Set in the dying days of Tsarist Russia, the story of five intertwined lovers lasted less than two months after raving reviews.
Are you planning your weekend?
Subscribe to our free Top 5 Things to Do newsletter
Every Thursday we deliver ideas for going out, staying home or spending time outdoors.
You are all registered!
Want more of our free weekly newsletters delivered to your inbox? Let’s start.
Discover all your possibilities
She is survived by her husband; her children Julie Simon and James Levine; and four grandchildren Sophie, Ben, Charlie and Evie.
“Words fail me to describe the feeling of suddenly being the only remaining direct descendant of Richard and Andrea Simon,” said Carly Simon. “They touched everyone they knew, and those of us they left behind will be fortunate and honored to continue carrying their memories.”