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US playwright Neil Simon dies at 91: New York Times, Arts News & Top Stories

(REUTERS) – US playwright Neil Simon, who grew to become certainly one of Broadway’s most prolific and widespread playwrights as he mixed humor, drama and introspection in works equivalent to The Odd Couple, The Goodbye Girl and Lost in Yonkers, died on Sunday (Aug 26) on the age of 91, the New York Times reported, citing his publicist.

Simon drew on his tumultuous New York Jewish upbringing in lots of his works. 

A brand new Simon play virtually each theatrical season was a Broadway staple from 1960 by way of the mid-1990s, inserting him within the ranks of America’s high playwrights. He wrote greater than 40 performs that have been humorous, moving and immensely widespread – typically shifting from slapstick to melodrama with the flip of a phrase. 

At one level he had a file 4 performs working concurrently on Broadway.  

Simon was known as “not just a show business success but an institution” by one New York critic. While his voice and comedy have been decidedly East Coast and sometimes mirrored an ethnic Jewish expertise, Simon’s works performed to packed homes across the world. 

He gained Tony Awards for The Odd Couple, Biloxi Blues and Lost in Yonkers and a fourth for his total contribution to American theatre. He was nominated for 13 different Tonys. 

Lost in Yonkers (1990), a painfully joke in regards to the relationship between an abusive mom and her grown kids, additionally gained the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1991.  

Simon’s childhood was marred by the breakup of his dad and mom. At first he was reluctant to attract on that ache, fearing it will make his performs too darkish. 

Later in his profession he would use his personal painful experiences, equivalent to within the semi-biographical Brighton Beach Memoirs, to present his work extra depth.  But being entertaining was his main aim. 

“When I was a kid, I climbed up on a stone ledge to watch an outdoor movie of Charlie Chaplin,” Simon as soon as informed Life journal.

“I laughed so exhausting I fell off, minimize my head open and was taken to the physician, bleeding and laughing. 

“… My idea of the ultimate achievement in a comedy is to make a whole audience fall onto the floor, writhing and laughing so hard that some of them pass out.” 

Simon’s performs made him a rich man and plenty of have been changed into movies, which made him even wealthier and earned him 4 Academy Award nominations.

Among his works showing on film screens have been Barefoot within the Park, Plaza Suite, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound. The Odd Couple was even made right into a profitable tv sitcom. 

Early Simon works have been typically deemed too sentimental or industrial by critics however as his profession entered its third decade, the performs grew extra severe, extra mature.

Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote of Biloxi Blues (1985) that Simon “at last begins to examine himself honestly, without compromises, and as a result is his most persuasively serious effort.”

Marvin Neil Simon was born on July four, 1927, within the New York City borough of the Bronx, son of Irving, a garment salesman, and Mamie Simon. 

After attending New York University and the University of Denver and serving within the US Air Force Reserve, Simon and his mentor, older brother Danny Simon, labored collectively within the 1940s writing comedy sketches for radio performer Goodman Ace.  

Simon and Danny, whose dwelling preparations as soon as impressed Neil’s The Odd Couple, then moved to tv, working with such widespread entertainers as Sid Caesar, Phil Silver and Jackie Gleason, and with different writers together with Mel Brooks and Woody Allen. 

But Simon didn’t like tv work and in 1960 got here up with Come Blow Your Horn, which grew to become a modest Broadway hit. It was adopted by Barefoot within the Park in 1963, which ran for greater than 1,500 performances. 

Simon would go on to dominate the 1960s with The Odd Couple, Sweety Charity, Plaza Suite and The Last of the Red Hot Lovers. 

In the ‘70s he turned out The Prisoner of Second Avenue, The Sunshine Boys and California Suite whereas his ‘80s works included Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, Broadway Bound and Rumors.

Simon continued into the subsequent decade with Lost in Yonkers, Jake’s Women, The Goodbye Girl and Laughter on the 23rd Floor. His semi-autobiographical trilogy – “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” “Biloxi Blues” and “Broadway Bound – was a fixture on Broadway within the 1980s. 


Simon as soon as in contrast his personal artistic course of to a pinball machine, equivalent to when he was writing Lost in Yonkers.

The artistic idea, he stated, started “to move circuitously around in my brain, bouncing off one neuron to another, like a pinball that hits every number of the board repeatedly, rolls down, hits the flippers and goes bouncing back up for another go at every bell-ringing number again.” 

Simon’s performs have been normally set in New York with characters whose issues have been much like these skilled by Simon. 

Chapter Two, for instance, handled a author whose first spouse had died, making an attempt to open himself to like a brand new girl. 

Simon’s spouse of 20 years, Joan Baim, died of most cancers in 1973, after which he married actress Marsha Mason, who starred within the 1979 movie model of  Chapter Two. Mason additionally gained an Oscar for 1977’s The Goodbye Girl, one other Simon play he tailored for the display.  

Simon obtained Kennedy Center honours in 1995 from President Bill Clinton for his contribution to the humanities and to widespread tradition within the 20th century. 

“He challenges us and himself never to take ourselves too seriously,” Clinton stated in presenting the award. “Thank you for the wit and the wisdom.” 

Simon was married 5 occasions, twice to actress Diane Lander. He is survived by spouse Elaine Joyce and his three daughters from completely different marriages, the Times reported. 

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