Representatives announced that famous American playwright Neil Simon has died from pneumonia-related complications at the age of 91 in New York. He became famous internationally for comedies like Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple in the 1960s. He won the Pulitzer for Drama in 1991 with Lost in Yonkers. Robert Redford considered him the next best playwright after Shakespeare. His works include musicals like They’re Playing Our Song and Sweet Charity. He averaged one play per year at least. Wife Elaine Joyce and daughters Nancy and Ellen were present when he breathed his last at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Elaine Paige and Josh Gad paid tribute to Simon on Twitter. Fans also paid their tributes to the legendary playwright.
Great US actors like Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau starred in film adaptation of Simon’s play- The Odd Couple (1968). Remakes of his earlier works- Plaza Suite and The Sunshine Boys- were made for TV for younger generations. His later works didn’t connect with audiences anymore.
Neil Simon was born in The Bronx on the July 4, 1927 to Irving Simon and wife Mamie. His father was a garment salesman. The childhood days he spent in the city as a Jew would be reflected time and again in his screen and stage works. The problematic relationship between his parents would later bring out the psychological depths in many of his works. Before moving on to cinema and Broadway, Simon worked in the television industry too. He also wrote comedies in the 1940s for radio shows. He was presented with the Tony Award in 1965 in the category Best Playwright for The Odd Couple.
While talking to Life magazine, Neil Simon recalled how he’d climbed up some stone hedge to see an outdoor film version of Charlie Chaplin. He told Life how he’d fallen off and cut open his head because he’s laughing too hard. He’d to be taken to a doctor. Simon told that his idea of a perfect comedy would be to make his audience laugh so hard that they’d fall down and maybe some would even pass out.