Culture&Arts

Pulitzer Winning Playwright Neil Simon Dies At 91

Pulitzer Winning Playwright Neil Simon Dies At 91

Oscar victor Jane Fonda has paid tribute to acclaimed playwright Neil Simon, describing him as one of America's great writers.

The brains behind more than 30 plays, 20 screenplays and 5 musicals, Time magazine dubbed him the "patron saint of laughter". "I'm sad that we don't have that kind of voice". Many of his plays were adapted into movies and one, "The Odd Couple", even became a popular television series. "Big Bang Theory" creator Bill Prady wrote that "there is no American comedy writer whose work isn't influenced by the rhythm and music of Neil Simon's words".

Although he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for "Lost in Yonkers" - one of innumerable accolades amassed over his career - the box-office hits, by then, were few and far between.

Neil Simon, American playwright, screenwriter and author.

Simon originally started as a radio and TV writer with his older brother, Danny.

Simon soon returned to NY and began working in the mailroom of Warner Brothers' Manhattan office.

"Barefoot in the Park" turned Robert Redford into a star.

Simon cemented that success two years later with "The Odd Couple", a comedy about bickering roommates: Oscar, a gruff, slovenly sportswriter, and Felix, a neat, fussy photographer. "The Odd Couple", for example, spawned the hit movie starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau and later the long-running 1970s sitcom, with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall.

Among Simon's other well-known works were The Prisoner of Second Avenue, The Sunshine Boys, and Promises, Promises. Simon's third wife, Diane Lander, would also become his fourth when they married a second time following a divorce.

He is survived by daughters Ellen Simon, Nancy Simon, and Bryn Lander Simon, and wife Elaine Joyce Simon, whom he married in 1999.

Tony award-winning actor Harvey Fierstein recalled Simon's mix of humour, drama and introspection and described his death as "a loss for the entire entertainment industry". The turnaround began with Brighton Beach Memoirs in 1983. Behavior is absolutely the most interesting thing I can write about.

Such was his wealth that he produced many of his plays and in 1983 he was given the rare accolade of having a NY stage, the Neil Simon Theatre, named in his honor.

"But I am sorry because he was a great writer".