Eminent American playwright Neil Simon, a master of comedy whose laugh-filled hits such as “The Odd Couple,” Barefoot in the Park” and his “Brighton Beach” trilogy dominated Broadway for decades, dies at 91.
Neil Simon died early Sunday of complications from pneumonia surrounded by family at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, said Bill Evans, his longtime friend and the Shubert Organization director of media relations.
In the second half of the 20th century, Simon was the American theater’s most successful and prolific playwrights, often chronicling middle class issues and fears.
Starting with “Come Blow Your Horn” in 1961 and continuing into the next century, he rarely stopped working on a new play or musical. His list of credits is staggering.
Neil Simon stage successes included “The Prisoner of Second Avenue,” Last of the Red Hot Lovers,” The Sunshine Boys,” Plaza Suite,” Chapter Two,” Sweet Charity” and “Promises, Promises,” but there were other plays and musicals, too, more than 30 in all. Many of his plays were adapted into movies and one, “The Odd Couple,” even became a popular television series.
For seven months in 1967, he had four productions running at the same time on Broadway: “Barefoot in the Park”; “The Odd Couple”; “Sweet Charity”; and “The Star-Spangled Girl.”
Even before he launched his theater career, he made history as one of the famed stable of writers for comedian Sid Caesar that also included Woody Allen, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner.
Neil Simon was the recipient of four Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, the Kennedy Center honors (1995), four Writers Guild of America Awards, an American Comedy Awards Lifetime Achievement honor and, in 1983, he even had a Broadway theater named after him when the Alvin was rechristened the Neil Simon Theatre.