According to Sheridan Morley, "This was in some ways the turning-point for Simon, the moment when he started to use his own life as something more than an excuse for a gag-fest. It was written as a tribute to Marsha Mason, his second wife, and her tolerance with his long-lasting grief over the death of his first wife...There is something very painful here, in among the gags, about a man trying to come to terms with death rather than a new life."
World Premiere: at the Los Angeles Ahmanson Theatre on October 7, 1977, closing November 26. Produced by Emanuel Azenberg and directed by Herbert Ross, the cast included: Judd Hirsch as George, Anita Gillette as Jennie, Cliff Gorman as Leo, and Ann Wedgeworth as Faye. The production won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards (1977–78): Distinguished Production; and Neil Simon, Distinguished Playwriting.
Opened on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre with the same Los Angeles cast, on December 4, 1977, and transferred to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in January 1979, where it closed on December 8, 1979 after 857 performances and seven previews. Cast replacements included: David Groh, Dick Latessa, Laurence Luckinbill, Robin Strasser, and Susan Browning. Tony Awards nominations lost: Tony Award for Best Play (1978) to Da by Hugh Leonard; Anita Gillette for Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play (1978) and Cliff Gorman for Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play (1978). Ann Wedgeworth won: Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play (1978).
Premiered in the West End at the Gielgud Theatre, in February 1996, with Tom Conti and Sharon Gless. Gless later recorded a two-disc audiobook of the play with David Dukes for LA TheatreWorks.
A portion of Chapter Two (1977 play) and Chapter Two (1979 movie) were used in the plot of the American sitcom Seinfeld's third season's episode: "The Letter, Season 3, Episode 20".
Simon adapted the play (1977) for Chapter Two (1979 film) directed by Robert Moore: with James Caan and Simon's then-wife Marsha Mason, the inspiration for character "Jennie". Caan said he made the film to earn some money while preparing for Hide in Plain Sight (1980 film).
"Chapter Two" was featured in the Season 3 Episode 20 episode of Seinfeld called The Letter when Jerry's artist girlfriend sends him a thoughtful letter trying to get him back. Then there's a broadcast of the play on TV and Jerry realizes she copied it word for word.