Broadway master of comedy Neil Simon dies aged 91

Calvin Saunders
August 27, 2018

Broderick in 1983 made both his Broadway debut in Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and his movie debut in Simon's "Max Dugan Returns". My job allowed me to stand in the back of the house and watch it repeatedly. This is where I want to go. "In 1966 alone, he had four Broadway shows running simultaneously", the report continued.

He followed that play with "Barefoot in the Park" (1963), which ran for 1,530 performances, and then "The Odd Couple"(1965) a massive success that was reprised as a television series in the 1970s and again in 2015. 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.

Simon received Kennedy Center honors in 1995 from President Bill Clinton for his contribution to the arts and to popular culture in the 20th century.

His later film career included adaptations of his own plays, like 1968's The Odd Couple starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, for which all three returned for a sequel thirty years later.

Even in mint condition, it's not clear his best works can ever mean to contemporary or future audiences what they once did to a much-different America. "For nearly half a century, his comedies have offered light at the end of whatever dark tunnel America has found itself in".

Simon continued to write prolifically, and as his reputation grew, his plays began to become instant classics.

"I am most alive and most fulfilled sitting alone in a room, hoping that those words forming on the paper in the Smith-Corona will be the first ideal play ever written in a single draft", Simon wrote in the introduction to one of the many anthologies of his plays.

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"I think, by and large, I've had my fair shake from the critics ..."

The victor of a Pulitzer and four Tony Awards, Simon wrote two memoirs and became a Kennedy Centre Honoree in 1995.

"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.

Actors and directors mourned Simon with online tributes.

Simon was called "not just a show business success but an institution" by one NY critic.

"He could write a joke that would make you laugh, define the character, the situation, and even the world's problems". In 2004, according to TMZ, Neil Simon had undergone a kidney transplant with an organ donated by his publicist.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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