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Prolific playwright Neil Simon dead at 91

27 August 2018

Neil Simon, the respected and much-honored Tony-award winning playwright, has died at the age of 91.

Simon's most revealing work was in his trilogy of autobiographical plays, "Brighton Beach Memoirs", "Biloxi Blues" and "Broadway Bound", all of which revealed how the material of a great comedy writer inevitably flowed from personal experience. Many of his plays were adapted into movies, and one, "The Odd Couple", even became a popular television series.

Simon was the recipient of four Tony awards, the Pulitzer Prize, the Kennedy Centre honours (1995), four Writers Guild of America awards and an American Comedy Awards lifetime achievement honour. And - more than any other single playwright of his generation - he invariably did so to packed Broadway houses and movie theaters, the rooms filled with the laughter of shared American experience.

In a 1997 interview with The Washington Post, Simon noted: "I know that I have reached the pinnacle of rewards". First time I met him he looked at me and said, "Where the hell did they find you?" He wrote musicals too (the best is Little Me, as originally guided in 1962 by Bob Fosse), and Hollywood screenplays.

Simon died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City of complications from pneumonia, Broadway theater representatives DKC/O&M said in a statement on Sunday.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and loved ones.

"The Odd Couple" - a comedy about a messy sportswriter Oscar and fastidious photographer Felix, whose troubled marriages bring them together as roommates - is still an American classic today.

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His wife, a daughter and grandson were at his bedside, Evans told AFP.

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

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

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

Simon's stage successes included "The Prisoner of Second Avenue", "Last of the Red Hot Lovers", "The Sunshine Boys", "Plaza Suite", "Chapter Two", "Sweet Charity" and "Promises, Promises".

Simon was married five times, twice to the same woman. She was his fourth wife after Joan Baim, Marsha Mason and Diane Lander. "When I say the critics are fair with me that includes the negative reviews because sometimes I agree with them", Simon told the Los Angeles Times in 1989.

At the time of his death, he was married to Joyce, an actress who he Wednesday in 1999.

Prolific playwright Neil Simon dead at 91