News // FAMED FILM AND STAGE WRITER, NEIL SIMON, DIES

Known for The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park, Simon was 91.



The much-lauded playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon has passed away. His many written works dove into the everyday muddles of the middle-class American family . Successful shows include The Odd Couple and Lost in Yonkers.


With four Academy Award nominations and seventeen Tony Award nominations (with three wins), Simon was one of the 20th century's most-awarded American writers. His career spanned over five decades, producing forty plays, some of which he would adapt into feature films and teleplays. With those works supporting him, Simon became the most commercially successful American playwright in modern history.


Simon's style of comedy is equal parts familiar emotions and punch-in-the-gut laughs. Much of his subject matter was based on the formidable American family. Simon was born in the Bronx in 1927 and grew up in Washington Heights during the Great Depression. His parents' marital problems became a driving point of his early years as a writer. He used it as an escape and a form of defense.


His first bout of success as a writer was in 1950 writing for Your Show of Shows with Sid Caesar. With his writing style forming, Simon was part of the first years of the developing American sitcom. His first Broadway play, Come Blow Your Horn, was produced in 1961 followed by Barefoot in the Park, his first major stage success, in 1963. Frank Sinatra starred in the film version of Come Blow Your Horn and Simon adapted his own script for the screen version of Barefoot in the Park with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. The success of that film carried Simon into writing other hit screen comedies like The Odd Couple, starring Walter Matthau and Art Carney.


He adapted his 1970 stage play The Gingerbread Lady into the film Only When I Laugh, which earned three Oscar nominations. His wife at the time, Marsha Mason, starred in the film, earning one of her four Oscar nominations.


The Odd Couple was undoubtedly his biggest mainstream success, with the film spawning a TV series of the same name.


Simon's stage career includes writing the books for the hit musicals Sweet Charity and Promises, Promises.


In his personal life, Simon was married four times. His first wife, Joan Baim, died of cancer in 1973. He then married Mason, who starred in many of his projects. The two of them divorced in the mid-1980s. He next married Diane Lander, whom he divorced and remarried before divorcing again in 1998. His last wife, who survives him, is actress Elaine Joyce.


With prolific stage hits like Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues under his belt, there's no doubt Simon has shaped modern entertainment in ever y realm.


Outside of his Oscar nominations and Tony wins, Simon was also lauded with the Mark Twain Prize for Comedy in 2006 and the Kennedy Center Honors in 1995.


He is survived by his wife, Joyce, and his three daughters: Ellen, Nancy, and Bryn.

© 2018 by Scottie Knollin.

SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL