Prolific playwright Neil Simon died August 26 in a New York City hospital as a result of complications from pneumonia at the age of 91.

Constantly working on a new production, So
Simon’s work was a staple of the Broadway season for decades. It began in 1961 with “Come Blow Your Horn” and in 1967 he had four of his plays running on Broadway at the same time – “Barefoot in the Park”, “The Odd Couple”, “Sweet Charity”, and “The Star Spangled Girl”.

Simon’s Broadway productions include “Promises, Promises”, “Brighton Beach Memoirs”, “Barefoot in the Park”, “The Odd Couple”, “Sweet Charity”, “45 Seconds from Broadway”, “The Dinner Party”, “Little Me”, “The Sunshine Boys”, “Proposals”, “Laughter on the 23rd Floor”, “The Goodbye Girl”, “Jake’s Women”, “Lost in Yonkers”, “Rumors”, “Broadway Bound”, “Biloxi Blues”, “Fools”, “I Ought to Be in Pictures”, “They’re Playing Our Song”, “Diversions and Delights”, “Chapter Two”, “God’s Favorite”, “The Good Doctor”, “The Prisoner of Second Avenue”, “The Gingerbread Lady”, “Last of th Red Hot Lovers”, “Plaza Suite”, “The Star Spangled Girl”, and “Come Blow Your Horn”.

But Simon’s work was not limited to Broadway, many of his productions crossed the country to become Hollywood films and blockbusters.

For Neil Simon, it all began as a comedy writer with his older brother Danny after spending time in the military at the end of World War II. The duo wrote for radio and television, later Neil wrote for Sid Caesar, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, and Carl Reiner.

In Hollywood, Simon has seen over 100 of his productions on the big screen and television including “The Odd Couple”, “The Heartbreak Kid”, “The Goodbye Girl”, “Laughter on the 23rd Floor”, “London Suite”, “Jake’s Women”, “The Sunshine Boys”, “Lost in Yonkers”, Rumeurs”, “Broadway Bound”, “Biloxi Blues”, “Plaza Suite”, “Brighton Beach Memoirs”, “I Ought to Be in Pictures” “Barefoot in the Park”, “Seems Like Old Times”, “California Suite”, “Last of the Red Hot Lovers”, “The Out of Towners”, “Sweet Charity”, and over 100 episodes of “Your Show of Shows”.

Usually behind the scenes, Simon appeared in an episode of “Fraiser” and was a wedding guest in an uncredited role in “The Heartbreak Kid”. As himself, Simon appeared on a variety of documentaries, on numerous talk shows and award shows.

Along with having hundreds of his plays grace the Broadway stage and film screens; his accomplishments include four Tony Awards, four Writer’s Guild of America awards, a Pulitzer Prize, is a Kennedy Center Honor, a Drama Desk Award, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Comedy Awards, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and has a theater on Broadway named after him.

He was born Marvin Neil Simon on July 4, 1927 in The Bronx the son of a garment industry worker and grew up in Washington Heights. Like much of the country during the Depression, the Simon household struggled to make ends meet; young Neil found refuge in writing.

He is survived by his wife Elaine Joyce, children Ellen, Nancy, and Bryn: three grandchildren; and a great grandchild.

 

feature photo credit: By AP – eBay, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72118440

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