Pulitzer Winning Playwright Neil Simon Dies At 91

Pulitzer Winning Playwright Neil Simon Dies At 91

Pulitzer Winning Playwright Neil Simon Dies At 91

Playwright Neil Simon accepts the 2006 Mark Twain Prize at the Kennedy Center in Washington, on October 15, 2006.

Neil Simon operated in a space few writers could, successfully navigating the formidable gaps that separate the worlds of theater, movies and TV in a manner that established him as one of the most influential comedy writers of the 20th century.

Marvin Neil Simon was born in the Bronx, New York, on 4 July 1927 He had one brother, Danny Simon, eight years his senior. Evans said he gave Simon a kidney in 2004. "At a time when I was struggling with my background and identity, Neil Simon showed me that you could take the pain of your own life and make great comedy", writer Bryan Behar said on Twitter. "It has been so great to be part of all of it". Moving from there to Caesar's Hour, Simon also write more than a dozen episodes of Sgt. Bilko for Phil Silvers.

Simon's works were so successful on Broadway that is was not uncommon for several of them to be running at once (in 1966, there were four). The show marked "his last major success on Broadway", according to The New York Times. "/ The Odd Couple, The Sunshine Boys, Barefoot in the Park and Lost in Yonkers". He was nominated for 13 other Tonys.

In 1991, Simon achieved the highest honor in USA drama, winning the Pulitzer Prize for "Lost in Yonkers", an autobiographical comedy about a mother and her daughter that was his last big splash on Broadway. At first he was reluctant to draw on that pain, fearing it would make his plays too dark. The turnaround began with Brighton Beach Memoirs in 1983.

But being entertaining was his primary goal. I've already diagrammed your life. "I laughed so hard I fell off, cut my head open and was taken to the doctor, bleeding and laughing".

In the 1980s, he produced the semi-autobiographical trilogy of plays "Brighton Beach Memoirs", "Biloxi Blues" and "Broadway Bound" starring a young Matthew Broderick as the playwright's alter ego Eugene Jerome.

In 2012, Northlight meant to stage a high-profile revival of "The Odd Couple" with Tim Kazurinsky and George Wendt; in the end, the actor Marc Grapey, who had understudied Lane and Broderick on Broadway in a revival of the same show, went on for the ailing Wendt.

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Playwright Kristoffer Diaz says: "In a different life, I would have loved to have been my generation's Neil Simon". 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.

"The Odd Couple" - a comedy about a messy sportswriter Oscar and fastidious photographer Felix, whose troubled marriages bring them together as roommates - is still an American classic today.

"Come Blow Your Horn" (1961) marked Simon's move to the stage from television sketch writing. It was followed by "Barefoot in the Park" in 1963, which ran for more than 1,500 performances.

Simon straddled those not-always-compatible disciplines with an ease that eluded many other playwrights. Simon continued into the next decade with "Lost in Yonkers", "Jake's Women", "The Goodbye Girl" and "Laughter on the 23rd Floor".

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

"He was a writer and an artist who couldn't stop going inside of himself and finding new things".

Simon's critics saw a schematic regularity to his work - a fair criticism, perhaps, albeit often one sourced in jealousy from those who strived but could not match his popularity and easy familiarity with ordinary people. He snagged 17 Tony nominations, and won three. "Thank you for the wit and the wisdom".

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