Neil Simon, giant of American stage, dies aged 91

27 August, 2018, 04:33 | Author: Kristopher Anderson
  • Neil Simon with Marsha Mason on the set of

On Saturday night, the Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright who wrote classics and successful comedies including Barefoot In The Park, Plaza Suite, and The Odd Couple, passed away at the age of 91.

According to TMZ, Simon died early Sunday morning after having been on life support for some time; he had a failing kidney, as well as Alzheimer's Disease and dementia.

In 2006, he won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humour, which honours work that draws from the American experience.

In all, he wrote 47 plays and productions, including "Barefoot in the Park" and "Promises, Promises", "Sweet Charity", "Biloxi Blues" and "The Sunshine Boys".

"The good mechanic knows how to take a vehicle apart; I love to take the human mind apart and see how it works", he told the Paris Review in 1994.

Marvin Neil Simon was born in the Bronx, New York, on 4 July 1927 He had one brother, Danny Simon, eight years his senior.

Simon found absurdity in the everyday, examining the anxieties of middle-class life in America with comedies about mismatched duos, family quirks and daily dramas.

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Neil Simon attends the "Les Miserables" New York premiere at Ziegfeld Theater in New York City on December 10, 2012. "I have no reason to write another play except that I am alive and I like to do it".

Other plays that went on to become major Hollywood movies included "The Goodbye Girl" in 1977 that won Richard Dreyfuss an Oscar for best leading actor and "The Odd Couple" in 1968 about two friends sharing an apartment starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. At the end of his life, he was married to his fourth wife, Elaine Joyce, an actress to whom he was married in 1999. He was a Depression-era child, his father, Irving, a garment-industry salesman.

Not only did Simon make a splash on the stage and screen, he also helped establish modern sitcom writing, working on such 1950s hits as Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows and The Phil Silvers Show.

Simon's plays were usually set in NY with characters whose problems were similar to those experienced by Simon.

The brains behind more than 30 plays, 20 screenplays and 5 musicals, Time magazine dubbed him the "patron saint of laughter". His first wife, Joan Baim, died of cancer in 1973, after 20 years of marriage.

"I suspect I shall keep on writing in a vain search for that flawless play. When I say the critics are fair with me that includes the negative reviews because sometimes I agree with them", Simon told the Los Angeles Times in 1989.

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