Neil Simon, the king of Broadway comedy, dies at 91

Playwright Neil Simon, Creator of ‘The Odd Couple’ and ‘Barefoot in the Park,’ Dies at 91

Playwright Neil Simon, Creator of ‘The Odd Couple’ and ‘Barefoot in the Park,’ Dies at 91

Simon wrote more than 30 plays and almost the same number of movie screenplays, mostly adaptations of his plays and has received more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer.

Simon died overnight Saturday from pneumonia complications at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, according to a statement from his public relations.

The theatre world quickly mourned his death, including Tony Award-winning actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein, who tweeted that Simon "could write a joke that would make you laugh, define the character, the situation, and even the world's problems".

He won the Pulitzer in 1991, for Lost in Yonkers, three Tony awards and one for special achievement, and the Mark Twain prize for humour.

For seven months in 1967, Simon had four productions running at the same time on Broadway: Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Sweet Charity, and The Star-Spangled Girl. The series lasted only two seasons, but despite this setback, the DNA of Simon's comedic sensibilities live on not only in later adaptations and Broadway runs of his work, but also in much of the comedy that exists today on television, in film and at the theater.

Simon has more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer in history.




During his long and illustrious career, Simon wrote more than thirty plays and musicals, many of which made it to Broadway over the course of four decades.

Later in his career he would use his own painful experiences, such as in the semi-biographical Brighton Beach Memoirs, to give his work more depth. Out of his frustration came Come Blow Your Horn, which starred Hal March and Warren Berlinger as two brothers (not unlike Danny and Neil Simon) trying to figure out what to do with their lives.

Simon was married five times, twice to actress Diane Lander. His first wife, Joan Baim, died of cancer in 1973 after 20 years of marriage.

Neil Simon is survived by his daughters Ellen, Nancy and Bryn, three grandchildren and one great-grandson.

"I know that I have reached the pinnacle of rewards", he said.

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