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Singer Carly Simon ‘filled with sorrow’ at the deaths of 2 sisters this week

Lucy and Joanna Simon, who also had musical careers, died one day apart.
The Simon family gathered at a party in New York on March 23, 1990. Carly Simon is pictured at right. Immediately next to her are her sisters — first Joanna, then Lucy. In the foreground is their mother, Andrea Heinemann Simon.
The Simon family gathered at a party in New York on March 23, 1990. Carly Simon is pictured at right. Immediately next to her are her sisters — first Joanna, then Lucy. In the foreground is their mother, Andrea Heinemann Simon. [ ED BAILEY | AP ]
Published Oct. 22, 2022

NEW YORK — Joanna Simon, an acclaimed mezzo-soprano, — Emmy-winning TV correspondent and one of the three singing Simon sisters who include pop star Carly, has died at age 85.

Simon, the eldest of four, died Wednesday, just a day before her sister Lucy died, according to Lucy’s daughter, Julie Simon. Their brother Peter, a photographer, died in 2018 at 71. All three had cancer.

“In the last 2 days, I’ve been by the side of both my mother and my aunt, Joanna, and watched them pass into the next world. I can’t truly comprehend this,” Julie wrote on Facebook.

Joanna Simon, who died of thyroid cancer, rose to fame in the opera world and as a concert performer in the 1960s. She was a frequent guest on TV talk shows. After her retirement from singing, she became an arts correspondent for PBS’s “MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour,” where she won an Emmy in 1991 for a report on mental illness and creativity.

“I am filled with sorrow to speak about the passing of Joanna and Lucy Simon. Their loss will be long and haunting. As sad as this day is, it’s impossible to mourn them without celebrating their incredible lives that they lived,” Carly Simon said in a statement Saturday.

She added: “We were three sisters who not only took turns blazing trails and marking courses for one another. We were each other’s secret shares. The co-keepers of each other’s memories.”

Joanna Simon was married to novelist and journalist Gerald Walker from 1976 until his death in 2004. She was the companion of Walter Cronkite from 2005 until his death in 2009.

On stage, she made her professional debut in 1962 as Cherubino in Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” at New York City Opera. That year, she won the Marian Anderson Award for promising young singers. Simon took on a range of material. As a concert performer, she leaned into classic 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, opening for other acts in Greenwich Village folk clubs.

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 spokesperson said. Simon had breast cancer.

She was 82.

While Carly Simon would find huge success with such hits as “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 of a musical and went on to play for almost two years.

Her return to Broadway in “Doctor Zhivago” in 2015 was less successful. The tale of five intertwined lovers set during final days of czarist Russia lasted less than two months after blistering reviews.

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She is survived by her husband; her children, Julie Simon and James Levine; and four grandchildren Sophie, Ben, Charlie and Evie.

“I have no words to explain the feeling of suddenly being the only remaining direct offspring of Richard and Andrea Simon,” Carly Simon said. “They touched everyone they knew and those of us they’ve left behind will be lucky and honored to carry their memories forward.”