Legendary Broadway playwright Neil Simon dead at age 91

Playwright Neil Simon has died at the age of 91

The theatre world quickly mourned his death, including Tony Award-winning actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein, who tweeted that Simon "could write a joke that would make you laugh, define the character, the situation, and even the world's problems".

Simon died overnight Saturday from pneumonia complications at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, according to a statement from his public relations. Starting with his first Broadway success, "Come Blow Your Horn" (1961), there was seldom a time when a Neil Simon work couldn't be found on stage or screen (or, occasionally, television).

At one point he had a record four plays running simultaneously on Broadway.

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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. "I have no reason to write another play except that I am alive and I like to do it", he said.

Neil was well known for so many plays and won Tony Awards for The Odd Couple, Biloxi Blues, and Lost in Yonkers. Along with his Oscar nominations and his Tony wins, Simon also won the Mark Twain Prize for Comedy in 2006 and took home Kennedy Center Honors in 1995. After serving in the military in 1945-46, 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".

Add in his original screenplays - such as "The Out-of-Towners", "The Heartbreak Kid", "The Goodbye Girl" and "Seems Like Old Times" - and one can get a sense of Simon's dominance. "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. There's a Broadway theater named for him; he was the only living person to have received such recognition. He was also a Pulitzer Prize victor, among many other honors during a lengthy career. He is survived by wife Elaine Joyce and his three daughters from different marriages, Evans said.

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