Published: Mon, August 27, 2018
Entertaiment | By Simon Arnold

Playwright and Screenwriter Neil Simon Dead at 91

Playwright and Screenwriter Neil Simon Dead at 91

A prolific and beloved playwright, screenwriter and jokesmith, Simon had some 30 Broadway hits spanning four decades - including "Barefoot in the Park" (1963), "The Odd Couple" (1965), "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" (1971), "Brighton Beach Memoirs" (1983) and "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" (1993).

TMZ reports there will be a memorial in New York City on Thursday. Along with his Oscar nominations and his Tony wins, Simon also won the Mark Twain Prize for Comedy in 2006 and took home Kennedy Center Honors in 1995. Simon also penned the books for such musicals as "Little Me", "Sweet Charity" and "They're Playing Our Song".

In a 1997 interview with The Washington Post, Simon reflected on his success: "I know that I have reached the pinnacle of rewards".

Pulitzer Prize victor Neil Simon who started as writer for TV greats Sid Caesar and Gleason, once had four plays simultaneously on Broadway. "The theater has lost a brilliantly amusing, unthinkably wonderful writer and even after all this time I feel I have lost a mentor, a father figure, a deep influence in my life and work".

Neil Simon attends the "Les Miserables" New York premiere at Ziegfeld Theater in New York City on December 10, 2012.

Many of Simon's plays were adapted for movies and TV. He was a Depression-era child, his father, Irving, a garment-industry salesman. His first big writing break came on Your Show of Shows in 1960, collaborating on sketches with his older brother Danny and such prolific writers in their own right that included Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Larry Gelbart, Mel Tolkin and Carl Reiner. Moving from there to Caesar's Hour, Simon also write more than a dozen episodes of Sgt. Bilko for Phil Silvers.

"Come Blow Your Horn" (1961) marked Simon's move to the stage from television sketch writing. His classic comedies include "The Odd Couple" and "The Sunshine Boys".

A statement from his representatives provided to Fox News confirms that his wife, Elaine Joyce Simon, and two daughters, Ellen and Nancy, were by his side when he died.

Simon's plays were usually set in NY with characters whose problems were similar to those experienced by Simon.

Simon drew on his tumultuous New York Jewish upbringing in many of his works.

Simon was married five times, twice to the same woman.

"When I was a kid, I climbed up on a stone ledge to watch an outdoor movie of Charlie Chaplin", Simon once told Life magazine. She was his fourth wife after Joan Baim, Marsha Mason and Diane Lander.

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