Broadway Playwright Neil Simon, Creator Of ‘The Odd Couple’, Dies At 91
Broadway’s “master of comedy” Neil Simon died on Sunday, August 26, 2018 at age 91. According to longtime friend Bill Evans, Simon passed away at New York Presybterian Hospital in Manhattan surrounded by his family. The cause of death has been identified as complications caused by pneumonia.
Simon was born in the Bronx in 1927 and grew up in Washington Heights, Manhattan, during the Great Depression. His parents’ volatile marriage and the financial difficulties the family faced during the Depression caused an unstable home environment for him and his brother Danny. Simon found solace at movie theaters and his love of comedic films inspired his desire to form connections with people through laughter. Simon stated that writing made him feel independent from his family’s emotional issues.
Simon and his brother began writing for radio and television together in the 1950s. They found success on Sid Caesar‘s variety showYour Show of Shows along with the likes of Mel Brooks, Carl Reina, and Imogene Coca. Simon’s first play, Come Blow Your Horn, debuted on Broadway in 1961 and was adapted into a film in 1963, starring Frank Sinatra. It was the first of many Broadway successes for Simon that would later become films, including Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple. The Odd Couple would become Simon’s most notable achievement as it became adapted into a film, TV series, all-female Broadway revival and subsequent Broadway and TV revivals.
Simon won four Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, the Kennedy Center honors, four Writers Guild of America awards, an American Comedy Awards Lifetime Achievement honor and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. In 1983, the Broadway Alvin Theatre was renamed The Neil Simon Theatre. Simon is survived by his wife Elaine Joyce, his three children, three grandchildren and one great grandson.