‘The Odd Couple’ playwright Neil Simon passes away at 91

Playwright Neil Simon, Creator of ‘The Odd Couple’ and ‘Barefoot in the Park,’ Dies at 91
Legendary Broadway playwright Neil Simon dead at age 91
Author

27 August, 2018

According to the Times, "Beginning with the breakthrough hits "Barefoot in the Park" (1963) and "The Odd Couple" (1965) and continuing with popular successes like "Plaza Suite" (1968) and 'The Sunshine Boys (1974), Mr. Simon ruled Broadway when Broadway was still worth ruling". Simon died around 1 a.m. Sunday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for his play Lost in Yonkers, and received more Oscar and Tony nominations combined than any other writer.

Neil Simon was married four times, losing one wife to cancer. But what made Simon's plays work at their best was not just the jokes but the universality of the neurotic relations he mined between men and women, men and men, and parents and children.

Neil Simon attends the "Les Miserables" New York premiere at Ziegfeld Theater in New York City on December 10, 2012. I have no reason to write another play except that I am alive and I like to do it'-Neil Simon. Many of his plays were adapted into movies and one, "The Odd Couple", became a popular TV series.

In the 1980s, he produced the semi-autobiographical trilogy of plays "Brighton Beach Memoirs", "Biloxi Blues" and "Broadway Bound" starring a young Matthew Broderick as the playwright's alter ego Eugene Jerome.

"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". 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.

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"No playwright in Broadway's long and raucous history has so dominated the boulevard as the softly astringent Simon", The New Yorker's John Lahr wrote in 2010.

After attending New York University and the University of Denver and serving in the US Air Force Reserve, Simon and his mentor, older brother Danny Simon, worked together in the 1940s writing comedy sketches for radio performer Goodman Ace.

"Come Blow Your Horn" (1961) marked Simon's move to the stage from television sketch writing.

Simon's plays were usually set in NY with characters whose problems were similar to those experienced by Simon. They had two daughters, Ellen and Nancy, who survive him. His previous wives were named Diane Lander, Marsha Mason and Joan Baim.

"I suspect I shall keep on writing in a vain search for that flawless play".

In the 1990s, the commercial producer Michael Leavitt and Fox Theatricals staged several major productions of Simon's work at the Briar Street Theatre on Chicago's North Side.


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