Neil Simon, American playwright, dead at 91

neil simon

Neil Simon, American playwright, has died at the age of 91 from complications from pneumonia. He was on life-support while hospitalized for renal failure and had Alzheimer's disease.

His longtime friend and publicist, Bill Evans, shared that Simon died around 1 a.m. Sunday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

Born in the Bronx, New York, Simon sought refuge from the strain of The Great Depression in theatres watching early comedians such as Charlie Chaplin.

His own writing career started right after he graduated high school with gigs writing comedy scripts for radio and television. He earned two Emmy nominations for his work on Your Show of Shows, for which he and his brother Danny were hired to write by Max Liebman.

Come Blow Your Horn was his first play. It took him 3 years to write and ran for 678 performances on Broadway.

From there he wrote, Barefoot in the Park (1963) and the Tony Award-winning The Odd Couple (1965).

Over the course of his career, he penned over 30 plays, which earned him 7 Tony nominations. He won three. At one point he had four plays running on Broadway. In 1983 the Neil Simon Theatre was named in his honor, making him the only living playwright with a New York theatre named after him.

Simon was also a Pulitzer Prize winner, having earned the honor in 1991 for "Lost in Yonkers."  In addition, he was a 1995 Kennedy Center honoree and won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2006.

The Odd Couple may be his most-known work, with the 2015 reboot starring Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon. It began as a Broadway play, then was turned into a movie in 1968 starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Two years later the show came to television with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. It wasn't done there. In 1975 it was revived again as a Saturday morning cartoon. Then in 1982, it got yet another reboot which only lasted a year.

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