Mark Hamill Remembers Playwright Neil Simon

Posted August 27, 2018

"The Odd Couple", Simon's play about two mismatched bachelors who share a NY apartment, has had a particularly remarkable life. He snagged 17 Tony nominations, and won three.

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". He had a Broadway theater named after him in 1983.

United States playwright Neil Simon, whose name was synonymous with Broadway comedy and theatre, has died in NY. "For nearly half a century, his comedies have offered light at the end of whatever dark tunnel America has found itself in". Simon won the Tony Award for Best Author for "The Odd Couple" at the 1965 Tony Awards. Later on, Simon would literally adapt Chekhov to the stage (none too well), but in the original Odd Couple and here and there in his later works, he married a three-dimensional humanity to his genius for writing jokes.

During his long and illustrious career, Simon wrote more than thirty plays and musicals, many of which made it to Broadway over the course of four decades.

"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. He wrote more than 40 plays that were amusing, moving and immensely popular - sometimes shifting from slapstick to melodrama with the turn of a phrase. The honor roll of alumni includes not just Simon but Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Larry Gelbart, Carl Reiner, and Mel Tolkin, among many others.

Simon had a rare stumble in the fall of 2009, when a Broadway revival of his "Brighton Beach Memoirs" closed abruptly after only nine performances because of poor ticket sales.

His plays often centered around the working or middle class, drawing extensively from his own personal experiences being raised during the Depression.

Simon gained global fame in the 1960s for stage and screen comedies including The Odd Couple and Barefoot In The Park. They had two daughters, Ellen and Nancy, who survive him.

The first play Simon wrote was 1961's "Come Blow Your Horn", which ran on Broadway for more than a year to favorable reviews.

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".

The playwright was married to his third wife, Diane Lander, twice - once in 1987-1988 and again in 1990-1998.

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