USA playwright Neil Simon, Broadway's master of comedy, dies at 91

Playwright Neil Simon, Creator of ‘The Odd Couple’ and ‘Barefoot in the Park,’ Dies at 91

Legendary Broadway playwright Neil Simon dead at age 91

Simon was a multiple Tony Award victor, having been nominated 17 times and winning three, and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2006.

Many of his works are classics of 20th century American theater and Simon has been credited with playing a seminal role - along with film director Woody Allen - in re-crafting USA humor in the 1960s and 1970s.

Neil Simon has the distinction of being the only writer to have four major Broadway productions all running simultaneously, which happened back in the 60s.

Simon died sometime overnight Saturday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, the statement said. Simon also penned the books for such musicals as "Little Me", "Sweet Charity" and "They're Playing Our Song".

Simon is survived by his wife, actress Elaine Joyce, and his daughters, Nancy, Ellen and Bryn.

In 1961, the playwright wrote his very first play called Come Blow Your Horn, and finished his final work fifty years later, 45 Seconds From Broadway. For a good while this rich vein of comedy was American comedy, much of it incubated in the legendary writers rooms - celebrated in television's Dick Van Dyke Show, the film My Favorite Year, and Simon's own play Laughter on the 23rd Floor - of the prime-time sketch-based series produced by Max Leibman and starring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca at network television's dawn in postwar America.

"No playwright in Broadway's long and raucous history has so dominated the boulevard as the softly astringent Simon", The New Yorker's John Lahr wrote in 2010. Among his works appearing on movie screens were "Barefoot in the Park", "Plaza Suite," "Brighton Beach Memoirs", "Biloxi Blues" and "Broadway Bound".

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Simon also was a master of probing the relationships of opposites, most famously in "The Odd Couple", a beloved comedy that looked at two roommates, the schlubby Oscar Madison (Matthau in the 1968 film) and the fastidious Felix Unger (Jack Lemmon).

In 1983 he gained the rare accolade of having a NY stage, the Neil Simon Theatre, named in his honor.

Simon served in the military and then worked with his older brother Danny on producing jokes for television and radio scripts.

Simon's plays were usually set in NY with characters whose problems were similar to those experienced by Simon. His classic comedies include "The Odd Couple" and "The Sunshine Boys".

He was married 5 times to 4 different women - he married his third wife twice - and had 3 children.

"I know that I have reached the pinnacle of rewards", he said.

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