Award-winning playwright Neil Simon passed away at the age of 91 on Sunday. His death was announced by his publicist, Bill Evans. His cause of death was reported as “complications from pneumonia.”
The iconic writer earned both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for the semi-autobiographical “Lost in Yonkers,” but his voice was also prominent in both television and film. He wrote for comedy greats like Sid Caesar and Phil Silver, and alongside icons like Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks and Larry Gelbart.
Over the course of his career, Simon was nominated for 17 Tony Awards (he won 3) and earned four Oscar nominations as well.
For 1978’s “The Goodbye Girl” alone, Simon was nominated for his screenplay. In addition, the film won best actor (Richard Dreyfuss), received a best picture nomination, and received nominations for best actress (Marsha Mason) and best supporting actress (Quinn Cummings).
His contributions to the large and small screens included “The Goodbye Girl,” “Biloxi Blues,” “The Odd Couple,” “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Barefoot in the Park,” and his dry wit made his comedy as engaging as it was relatable.
His view of life:
I love living. I have some problems with my life, but living is the best thing they’ve come up with so far.
And taking risks:
If no one ever took risks, Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor.
And why he always preferred New York City to Los Angeles:
When it’s 100 degrees in New York, it’s 72 in Los Angeles. When it’s 30 degrees in New York, in Los Angeles it’s still 72. However, there are 6 million interesting people in New York, and only 72 in Los Angeles.
Fans and colleagues immediately paid their respects to the genuine icon.
Neil Simon brought a unique eye for life to stage and screen. Through sharp characters and dialogue, he prodded us – in laughter and tears – to contend with the traits that make us human. Another voice who understood the power of art in our American story now belongs to eternity.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) August 26, 2018
“There’s no more money anyone can pay me that I need. There are no awards they can give me that I haven’t won. I have no reason to write another play except that I am alive and I like to do it”-Neil Simon #RIP GIANT of the American Theatre #ThanksForTheLaughs pic.twitter.com/NZIVGPLdst
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) August 26, 2018
Neil Simon – gone! A loss 4 the entire entertainment industry.
He could write a joke that would make you laugh, define the character, the situation, and even the world’s problems. First time I met him he looked at me and said, “Where the hell did they find you?” What a gent.
— Harvey Fierstein (@HarveyFierstein) August 26, 2018
One stat that’s unlikely ever to be equaled by a living playwright: Neil Simon’s work yielded fifty Tony nominations for actors. FIFTY. (And, of course, Oscars for Richard Dreyfuss, George Burns, and Maggie Smith, and many nominations for other performers.)
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) August 26, 2018
“I got brown sandwiches and green sandwiches. It’s either very new cheese or very old meat.” -Oscar Madison in “The Odd Couple” #NeilSimon (1927-2028) pic.twitter.com/pfBmVP0lCl
— Anthony Mason (@AnthonyMasonCBS) August 26, 2018
Neil Simon died. RIP. One of the best lines (delivered masterfully by Walter Matthau) from The Odd Couple:
“I can’t stand little notes on my pillow! ‘We are all out of Corn Flakes. -F.U.’ It took me three hours to figure out that ‘F.U.’ was Felix Unger!”
— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) August 26, 2018
I think the coolest thing about #NeilSimon’s legendary work is that people who know nothing about the theatre are familiar with SOMETHING he wrote, even if they don’t know it.
— Alex Boniello (@AlexBoniello) August 26, 2018
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