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Prolific playwright Neil Simon dead at 91

Prolific playwright Neil Simon dead at 91

As a playwright, Simon was practically unparalleled in American theater - from his classic first hit Barefoot in the Park in 1963, to more recent plays that won him Tony Awards, including The Odd Couple, Biloxi Blues, and Lost In Yonkers, to name just a few of his many, many works.

It's been reported that Simon passed away on Sunday morning at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, after being on life support.

Simon's other honors include membership in the American Theatre Hall of Fame, the New York State Governor's Award, the Kennedy Center Honors and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Simon's successes included The Sunshine Boys, Lost in Yonkers, and the musicals Sweet Charity and Little Me.

Simon's works were so successful on Broadway that is was not uncommon for several of them to be running at once (in 1966, there were four).

Simon found absurdity in the everyday, examining the anxieties of middle-class life in America with comedies about mismatched duos, family quirks and daily dramas.

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Born July 4, 1927, in New York City, Simon grew up loving movies, especially comedies, and turned that love into a career when he began writing for some of TV's earliest comedy shows, including Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows" and "The Phil Silvers Show", both of which earned him Emmy awards. "I have no reason to write another play except that I am alive and I like to do it", he said.

The play remains one of Simon's most durable and popular works.

"There are no awards they can give me that I haven't won". Simon's wife, Elaine Joyce Simon, was at the writer's bedside, along with Simon's daughters, Ellen and Nancy Simon. He was raised mostly by his strong-willed mother, Mamie, and mentored by his older brother, Danny, who nicknamed his younger sibling, Doc. It was a hit from the get-go with critics and audiences during its gestation in Washington, but Simon and Nichols kept making changes, including in the play's ending, right up until it was time to pack up and move to the Plymouth Theater in NY. He wrote more than 30 plays in total, and was also nominated for four different Oscars for his screenplays over the years. When it's 20 in NY, it's 72 in Los Angeles.

Simon's former wife and actress Marsha Mason posted a tribute to her ex-husband: "He was a great talent and man, husband and father". I like writing for actors.

"When I was a kid, I climbed up on a stone ledge to watch an outdoor movie of Charlie Chaplin", Simon once told Life magazine.

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