Playwright and Screenwriter Neil Simon Dead at 91

Playwright and Screenwriter Neil Simon Dead at 91

Darren Sullivan
August 27, 2018

Legendary American playwright Neil Simon has died.

Simon is famous for plays and musicals that dominated Broadway, such as "The Odd Couple", "Lost in Yonkers" and "Barefoot in the Park".

In 2006, he won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humour, which honours work that draws from the American experience.

Simon made a trilogy of autobiographical plays that included Brighton Beach Memoirs in 1983, Biloxi Blues in 1985 and Broadway Bound in 1986.

In a 1997 interview with The Washington Post, Simon reflected on his success. Behavior is absolutely the most interesting thing I can write about.

"My mother and father were gone when I wrote it, so I did tell about the fights and what it was like for me as a kid hearing them". He wrote more than 40 plays that were amusing, moving and immensely popular - sometimes shifting from slapstick to melodrama with the turn of a phrase.

A one-man laugh factory known for one-liners delivered through the romantic gauze of memory, and one of the last human connections to the golden age of American comedy, the playwright Neil Simon died early Sunday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital at the age of 91.

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For much of his career, audiences embraced his work, which often focused on middle-class, urban life, numerous plots drawn from his own personal experience. He is survived by three children, and a memorial service is already scheduled for this Thursday in New York City. Simon also wrote original screenplays as well, like 1970's The Out-of-Towners, 1976's Murder by Death and 1977's The Goodbye Girl. "His wife, Elaine Joyce Simon, was at his bedside along with Mr. Simon's daughters, Ellen Simon and Nancy Simon".

Such was his wealth that he produced many of his plays and in 1983 he was given the rare accolade of having a NY stage, the Neil Simon Theatre, named in his honor.

Simon wrote in his autobiography "Rewrites", published in 1996, that his older brother Danny had inspired him to pursue comedy.

"Come Blow Your Horn" (1961) marked Simon's move to the stage from television sketch writing. Evans said he gave Simon a kidney in 2004.

"The Odd Couple" - a comedy about a messy sportswriter Oscar and fastidious photographer Felix, whose troubled marriages bring them together as roommates - is still an American classic today.

Perhaps Simon's most infamous production was the critically panned Rose's Dilemma, which opened at off-Broadway's non-profit Manhattan Theatre Club in December 2003. Simon's wife of 20 years, Joan Baim, died of cancer in 1973, after which he married actress Marsha Mason, who starred in the 1979 film version of "Chapter Two".