Neil Simon, Uniquely American, Legendary Playwright, Dies @ 91

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Neil Simon — the artist with more Oscar and Tony nominations than any other — has died at age 91, ExtraTV reports.

Simon (writing) with the Your Show of Shows staff in the '50s (Image via NBC)

The massively popular playwright, one of the most produced in the history of the theater, was suffering from kidney failure and Alzheimer's disease at the time of his death, TMZ confirmed. He had been on life support before his death early Sunday morning.

Simon's emotionally and existentially challenging Bronx upbringing during the Great Depression informed his work, leading to a comedic — sometimes darkly comedic — style that was instantly recognizable.

He wrote for radio and early TV, most importantly for Sid Caesar's (1922-2014) Your Show of Shows (1955-1959), for which he was rewarded with an Emmy. Also on staff, Mel Brooks (b. 1926).

The Odd Couple has become one of the most famous plays, movies and TV series of all time (GIF via GIPHY)

In 1961, his play Come Blow Your Horn was a Broadway hit, followed by such iconic plays as Barefoot in the Park (1963), The Odd Couple (1965), Sweet Charity (1966), Plaza Suite (1968), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1961), The Sunshine Boys (1972), They're Playing Our Song (1979), I Ought to Be in Pictures (1980); the trilogy comprised of Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983), Biloxi Blues (1985), and Broadway Bound (1986); and Lost in Yonkers (1991).

Simon also successfully adapted his work for the movies, earning four Oscars, and wrote original screenplays like Murder by Death (1976), The Goodbye Girl (1977), The Cheap Detective (1978), Seems Like Old Times (1980), and The Odd Couple II (1998).

Joyce & Simon collaborated on her one-woman show (Image via Rrazz Productions)

Simon, who was married five times, including a 10-year union with actress Marsha Mason (b. 1942), is survived by his wife, actress Elaine Joyce (b. 1945), and three children.

1 Response

  1. Rest in Peace to one of the great talents of the 20th Century. (but psst, he never won the Oscar, but did get 4 nominations. Plus he did win the Golden Globe.)

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