Prolific US playwright Neil Simon dead at 91

His father, Irving Simon, was a garment industry worker who repeatedly left Neil's mother, May, when he was a child.

Playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon has died at the age of 91 of complications related to pneumonia, according to his publicist. He is considered the most commercially successful American playwright in history.

It was a hit from the get-go with critics and audiences during its gestation in Washington, but Simon and Nichols kept making changes, including in the play's ending, right up until it was time to pack up and move to the Plymouth Theater in NY. He is survived by wife Elaine Joyce and his three daughters from different marriages, Evans said. He had represented Simon for three decades from 1976 to 2006. He wrote scores of classic plays, mostly Broadway comedies, including "The Odd Couple", "Sweet Charity", and "Lost in Yonkers", for which he won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize.

For much of his career, audiences embraced his work, which often focused on middle-class, urban life, numerous plots drawn from his own personal experience.

Josh Gad said that Simon's work, "as both a participant and audience, has defined and shaped me on my own journies and [career] trajectory". Behavior is absolutely the most interesting thing I can write about. While writing it, Simon told the Paris Review, his characters did not cooperate with the outline he planned. But those roots were always transparent, even when the lead roles were played by Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. He also wrote other famous hits including Barefoot in the Park, Promises, Promises, and more.

"Dilemma is the key word".

Perhaps Simon's most infamous production was the critically panned Rose's Dilemma, which opened at off-Broadway's non-profit Manhattan Theatre Club in December 2003.

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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. The previous year had seen a popular revival of "The Odd Couple", reuniting Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick after their enormous success in "The Producers" several years earlier. He deserves a second look from a new generation of directors and actors who might unlock the artist who moved so many Americans to laughter and even tears over an extraordinary run. "It was a privilege knowing him".

Oh, and he was the first playwright ever to have a Broadway theater named after him.

Other stage work included Plaza Suite, The Sunshine Boys, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound.

Simon described his craft as catharsis. Simon's work was also honored with a Golden Globe and a Kennedy Center Honor.

Legendary American playwright Neil Simon has died. He chalked up 17 Tony nominations and four Oscar nods.

Simon was married five times, twice to the same woman.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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