Prolific US playwright Neil Simon dead at 91

Oscar Cross
August 27, 2018

According to Bill Evans, Simon's longtime friend and the Shubert Organization director of media relations, the playwright died early Sunday of complications from pneumonia at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.

He won Tony Awards for "The Odd Couple", "Biloxi Blues" and "Lost in Yonkers" and a fourth for his overall contribution to American theater.

"It was wonderful to be in his life and for him to be in my life", he said, calling Simon a major figure in American culture.

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

The Neil Simon Theatre in New York City is named after the playwright. He also served in the U.S. Army, which was an experience he chronicled on stage.

"There is no American comedy writer whose work isn't influenced by the rhythm and music of Neil Simon's words".


"There are no awards they can give me that I haven't won. I have no reason to write another play except that I am alive and I like to do it", he said. She suffered the most in all of it. "The fact is, I probably never would have been a writer if it were not for Danny", he wrote. Simon was 91 years old. "Based on what? How amusing could I be at 15?" The New Yorker credits him with "pioneering...the genre of situation comedy" on television, including The Phil Silvers Show on the small screen. While writing it, Simon told the Paris Review, his characters did not cooperate with the outline he planned. I tried to pull them back in, saying, Get back in there. This is where I want to go. Many of his plays were adapted into movies and one, The Odd Couple, became a popular TV series. The show, along with "Barefoot in the Park, "Sweet Charity", and "The Star-Spangled Girl", all ran on Broadway simultaneously in 1967".

In 1991, Simon achieved the highest honor in United States drama, winning the Pulitzer Prize for "Lost in Yonkers", an autobiographical comedy about a mother and her daughter that was his last big splash on Broadway.

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

Even in mint condition, it's not clear his best works can ever mean to contemporary or future audiences what they once did to a much-different America.

Simon was the American theater's most successful and prolific playwright in the second half of the 20th century.

- Tony Award-winning actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein, via Twitter. "I really was in the mood to sort of go back and write just out-and-out amusing, because it's what I felt I needed in my own life".

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