Entertainment

Playwright Behind ‘The Odd Couple’ Has Passed Away at 91

Neil Simon was one of the most prolific writers of all time — and jumped from radio to television to Broadway

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Playwright Neil Simon died early Sunday due to to complications from pneumonia at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. Simon was 91.

Simon is survived by his wife, Elaine Joyce Simon, and two daughters, Ellen and Nancy.

They were all reportedly by his side at the time of his passing.

Simon won Tony Awards for plays including “The Odd Couple,” “Lost in Yonkers,” and “Biloxi Blues.” He was nominated for 17 Tony Awards in total.

Simon also won Pulitzer and Mark Twain prizes over the course of his career.

Simon was considered to be one of the most prolific writers in history. In 1966 he had four plays running simultaneously. The plays were “The Odd Couple,” “The Star-Spangled Girl,” “Sweet Charity,” and “Barefoot in the Park.”

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“The Odd Couple” was arguably Simon’s most influential and popular work. It would eventually be turned into two hit films starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Simon wrote the screenplays for both films.

The play was also turned into a handful of television shows, including one that ran for 114 episodes from 1970 to 1975 and another starring Matthew Perry — which ran for 38 episodes from 2015 to 2017.

Born in New York and raised in Washington Heights and the Bronx, Simon served in the military from 1945 to 1946. Following his service, he wrote for radio with his brother, Danny.

The brothers eventually moved their writing talents to television in the 1950s, where they wrote for shows such as “Your Show of Shows” and “The Phil Silvers Show.”

Simon was the rare writer who could be incredibly prolific — while at the same time keeping his voice and perspective clear in his work. His writing will no doubt influence writers of all kinds for decades to come and beyond.

For more on Simon, check out the video below:

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