Matty Simmons, born in Brooklyn, was a high-school and college basketball player, who, at the age of 17, became a newspaper reporter for the New York World Telegram and Sun. After a brief stint in the army he became a New York press agent, opening his own firm and representing show business clients as well as commercial accounts such as Heineken Beer. He then became one of the three men who started The Diners Club, the first all- purpose credit card company and served as Executive Vice President of that company directing its marketing and publishing operations including Signature Magazine, which he founded shortly after the company’s inception.
He resigned in the late 1960s to form 21st Century Communications, which was later to become National Lampoon Inc. The company went public in 1972 with Mr. Simmons as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. Its’ first magazine was Weight Watchers Magazine, founded in 1968. In 1970, the company introduced National Lampoon, which was to become the most popular humor magazine in publishing history. In 1972, Mr. Simmons produced the musical comedy Lemmings in which he introduced a number of new faces including John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Christopher Guest. Over the next five years, Mr. Simmons produced three other Lampoon shows introducing among others Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, Meatloaf, Mimi Kennedy and Paul Schaefer. During that period, he also produced the National Lampoon Radio Hour, which was the most popular radio show in America in 1973 and 1974 and 12 comedy albums.
In 1978 he produced National Lampoon’s Animal House considered the most popular film comedy of all time. He has also produced, among other films, the National Lampoon “Vacation” pictures, the most popular family movie series (box office) in film history.
In 1979, he was named “Producer of the Year” and in 1980, “Publisher of the Year” by industry organizations. His film and television discoveries include Michele Pfeiffer, Tom Hulce and Kevin Bacon. Among the writers he discovered were John Hughes, PJ O’Rourke and dozens of others, who today dominate the film and television scenes.
Over the years, Mr. Simmons has written eight books including several bestsellers and in the 1960s was the principal owner of the San Francisco Warriors.
In March of 1989, he sold his controlling interest in National Lampoon, Inc. and now lives in Los Angeles and concentrates on writing, producing films, tennis and yelling at referees at basketball games.
Most recently, he produced Christmas Vacation II for NBC and Warner Bros and Pucked starring Jon Bon Jovi for Sony Video.