Paul Simon Family History

Overview

Paul Frederic Simon was born on October 13th, 1941 to Louis and Belle Simon in Newark, New Jersey.  At the age of four Paul moved with his family to the Kew Garden Hills section of Flushing, Queens in New York City.  Paul attended Forest Hills High School which was where, at the age of eleven, he first met Art Garfunkel.

Simon and Garfunkel recorded their smash hit The Sound of Silence in 1966 and further smash hits, mostly written by Paul, followed.  The two split up in 1970, although they had reunions, and Paul pursued his solo career.  In 1987 he released Graceland, an album inspired by South African township music.  It sold fourteen million copies worldwide and remains his most popular and acclaimed solo work.  His reputation as a songwriter stands high today.

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Jewish Immigrants

Paul Simon’s grandparents Paul and Frieda Simon were Jewish immigrants to New York from Hungary who were first recorded in Manhattan in the 1915 census.  By the time of the 1920 census they had moved to Newark, New Jersey and had two toddlers – Louis (Paul’s father) and Rosalyn.

Louis grew up with one foot in the old Jewish world and one foot in the new.  Thus he was at one time a member of the Hungarian Radio Orchestra.  On the American side he was a double-bass player and dance bandleader who performed under the name of Lee Sims.

In 1938 Louis Simon married Belle Schulman.  She was the  youngest of four children of a Jewish couple, Samuel and Ettie Shulman, in Brooklyn.  Samuel had immigrated from Lithuania (then part of the Russian empire) around 1900 and married Ettie Marcus in New York in 1902.  Louis and Belle’s son Paul was born in 1941.

The musician Donald Fagen described Paul Simon’s childhood in this family as that of “a certain kind of New York Jew, almost a stereotype, really, to whom music and baseball are very important. I think it has to do with the parents. The parents are either immigrants or first-generation Americans who felt like outsiders, and assimilation was the key thought.  They gravitated to black music and baseball looking for an alternative culture.”

But education was also important to Louis Simon as he eventually became a college professor.  He died in 1995.  His wife Belle, an elementary school teacher, lived onto 2007.

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Paul Simon’s Family Tree
  • Paul Simon (b. 1888) m. Frieda Wechsler (b. 1892) in Hungary
  • – Louis Simon (1916-1995), born in New Jersey
  • – Rosalyn Simon (b. 1918), born in New Jersey
  • Louis Simon m. Belle Schulman from Brooklyn (1910-2007) in New Jersey in 1938
  • – Paul Simon (b. 1941)
  • – Eddie Simon (b. 1942)

 

 

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