Broadway master of comedy Neil Simon dies aged 91

Neil Simon

Neil Simon

Simon was a multiple Tony Award victor, having been nominated 17 times and winning three, and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2006.

According to Bill Evans, Simon's longtime friend and the Shubert Organization director of media relations, the playwright died early Sunday of complications from pneumonia at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.

A member of the famed "Your Show of Shows" writing staff for Sid Caesar, Simon was an entertainment mainstay for more than six decades.

Regarded as the first playwright to have a Broadway theater named after him, Simon's work dates back to "Come Blow Your Horn" in 1961 followed closely in 1963 with the success of his play "Barefoot in the Park". "In 1966 alone, he had four Broadway shows running simultaneously", the report continued.

Simon was reportedly on life support just before his passing.

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.

In 1991 he won the Pulitzer Prize For Drama with Lost in Yonkers.

But it was his second play, Barefoot in the Park, that really put Simon on the map. He won a Golden Globe for The Goodbye Girl, and was nominated for The Sunshine Boys and The Heartbreak Kid'. Three years later, it became a hit film starring Matthau and Jack Lemmon. He wrote more than 40 plays that were amusing, moving and immensely popular - sometimes shifting from slapstick to melodrama with the turn of a phrase. Out of his works thus far, The Odd Couple proved to be his biggest financial win, and the movie was turned into an ABC sitcom that ran from 1970 to 1975 and starred Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. "I hope I will keep my equilibrium and sense of humour when I'm told I haven't achieved it", Simon once said about his voluminous output of work. He also earned four Oscar nominations, a Pulitzer Prize, the Mark Twain Prize and countless other honors. At the end of his life, he was married to his fourth wife, Elaine Joyce, an actress to whom he was married in 1999.

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