Neil Simon, the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning playwright behind more than 30 plays including The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park and Biloxi Blues, died Sunday at the age of 91.
Simon’s family confirmed his death in a statement, adding that Simon died of complications from pneumonia at a Manhattan hospital. In recent years, Simon suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
“Neil Simon’s unparalleled career in the theater included more than thirty plays and musicals that opened on Broadway over a span of four decades,” the statement continued. “He made his playwriting debut in 1961, with Come Blow Your Horn and concluded his extraordinary Broadway run with 45 Seconds From Broadway in 2001.
“Neil Simon established his reputation writing some of Broadway’s most successful comedies, including Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, and Plaza Suite. Many of his later plays explored darker themes, as those found in Biloxi Blues, Broadway Bound and Lost in Yonkers.”
One of the most successful and acclaimed authors in Broadway history, Simon racked up 17 Tony nominations over a career in theater that spanned 50 years, winning three awards: Best Author in 1965 for The Odd Couple, Best Play for 1985’s Biloxi Blues and Best Play for 1991’s Lost in Yonkers. The latter play won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Simon also received a special Tony Award for contribution to theatre in 1975.
Apart from plays that were adapted for films — like Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, California Suite and Brighton Beach Memoirs, to name a few — Simon also penned the original screenplays for Seventies comedies like The Heartbreak Kid, Murder by Death and The Sunshine Boys.
“In addition to a Pulitzer Prize and four Tony Awards, Mr. Simon received many honors, including four Writers Guild of America Awards, an American Comedy Awards Lifetime Achievement honor, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s Monte Cristo Award,” the statement added.