Neil Simon dead at 91

Neil Simon dead at 91

Neil Simon dead at 91

Beloved playwright Neil Simon passed away on Sunday, and he was honored by none other than Mark Hamill on Twitter.

Simon had a rare stumble in the fall of 2009, when a Broadway revival of his "Brighton Beach Memoirs" closed abruptly after only nine performances because of poor ticket sales. Even if my own taste was already evolving more toward Albee, it remains to this day the funniest production of anything I've ever seen in the theater. I have no reason to write another play except that I am alive and I like to do it'-Neil Simon.

Simon died early on Sunday (local time) of complications from pneumonia at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, said Bill Evans, a longtime friend and spokesman for Shubert Organisation theatres. While his voice and comedy were decidedly East Coast and often reflected an ethnic Jewish experience, Simon's works played to packed houses around the world.

Simon drew on his tumultuous New York Jewish upbringing in many of his works. He was the child of a garment salesman named Irving Simon and a mother, Mamie Simon, who worked at a department store.

Simon has more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer in history. At the end of his life, he was married to his fourth wife, Elaine Joyce, an actress to whom he was married in 1999.

In 1983 he gained the rare accolade of having a NY stage, the Neil Simon Theatre, named in his honor. According to IMDB, Neil Simon was also known for his colorful quotes, among them, "When it's 100 in NY, it's 72 in Los Angeles". After serving in the military in 1945 and 1946, he began writing with his brother for radio in 1948, and then for television, a period in their lives chronicled in Simon's 1993 play, Laughter on the 23rd Floor. He had more than 30 plays mounted on Broadway, including four that ran simultaneously in 1966: "Sweet Charity", "The Star-Spangled Girl", "The Odd Couple" and "Barefoot in the Park"'.

Many of Simon's plays were adapted for movies and TV. Among Simon's most-loved and vividly characterized plays was "The Sunshine Boys", an especially hilarious 1972 tribute to the crusty vaudevillians of the old school, a type known personally to a writer who had paid his dues in the comedic salt mines and somehow remembered everything. "She was the one that was left alone", he told the Paris Review. His first wife, Joan Baim, died of cancer in 1973, after 20 years of marriage. His work, as both a participant and audience, has defined and shaped me on my own journeys and career trajectory.

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