Neil Simon, prolific playwright and screenwriter, dies at 91

Playwright Neil Simon has died at the age of 91

U.S. playwright Neil Simon, who became one of Broadway's most prolific and popular playwrights as he combined humour, drama and introspection in works such as "The Odd Couple", "The Goodbye Girl" and "Lost in Yonkers", died on Sunday at the age of 91, his representatives said.

In the 1960s, at the height of his success, with 4 plays running on Broadway, Simon was earning about $60,000 a week and easily double that thanks to royalties, The New Yorker reported in 2010. Along with his Oscar nominations and his Tony wins, Simon also won the Mark Twain Prize for Comedy in 2006 and took home Kennedy Center Honors in 1995.

Pulitzer Prize victor Neil Simon who started as writer for TV greats Sid Caesar and Gleason, once had four plays simultaneously on Broadway. But what made Simon's plays work at their best was not just the jokes but the universality of the neurotic relations he mined between men and women, men and men, and parents and children.

The Neil Simon Theatre in New York City is named after the playwright. He also served in the U.S. Army, which was an experience he chronicled on stage.

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.

The play remains one of Simon's most durable and popular works. 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. First time I met him he looked at me and said, "Where the hell did they find you?"

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

Not only did Simon make a splash on the stage and screen, he also helped establish modern sitcom writing, working on such 1950s hits as Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows and The Phil Silvers Show. Among Simon's most-loved and vividly characterized plays was "The Sunshine Boys", an especially hilarious 1972 tribute to the crusty vaudevillians of the old school, a type known personally to a writer who had paid his dues in the comedic salt mines and somehow remembered everything.

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

Simon's plays were usually set in NY with characters whose problems were similar to those experienced by Simon. She was his fourth wife after Joan Baim, Marsha Mason and Diane Lander. I like writing for actors.

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

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