Legendary playwright Neil Simon has died at the age of 91. TMZ reports that he had been suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s and that one of his kidneys was failing before he passed. Simon had a kidney transplant in 2004 following an extended period of kidney problems that resulted in multiple dialysis treatments a week. He received his new kidney from his friend and publicist Bill Evans. Simon had been on life support prior to his death at about 1 a.m. Sunday, and his official cause of death is complications of pneumonia.
Neil Simon was a prolific playwright with 100 writing credits to his name, including over 30 plays, nearly 30 screenplays, six television series, and eight made-for-TV movies. He was nominated for four Academy Awards for his screenplays for California Suite, The Goodbye Girl, The Sunshine Boys, and The Odd Couple. He won a Golden Globe Award for his screenplay for The Goodbye Girl and Tony Awards for The Odd Couple, Biloxi Blues, and Lost in Yonkers. He was nominated for a total of 17 Tony Awards. Lost in Yonkers also garnered him a Pulitzer Prize in 1991. He was honored by the Kennedy Center in 1995 and won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2006. He once had four plays on Broadway at the same time and was the first playwright to have a Broadway theater named after him. It was his work on Come Blow Your Horn in 1961 that first brought Simon success, but it was the Barefoot in the Park play that catapulted him into the public eye.
Neil Simon: Celebrated US playwright dies aged 91 https://t.co/S6Ew4Qk73Q— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) August 26, 2018
Neil Simon had a difficult upbringing, raised during the Great Depression by parents with a rocky relationship. His father was a clothing salesman. Simon said that he found escape in the movies during those years, which served as inspiration as a writer in later years. He was married five times. His first marriage to dancer Joan Baim lasted 20 years until her death from cancer. He divorced actress Marsha Mason after 10 years of marriage. He married actress Diane Lander twice, once for about a year and then a couple of years later for eight years. When he died, he had been married to actress Elaine Joyce for 19 years.
Marsha Mason posted about Simon’s death to Facebook.
“With heartfelt sadness and hurting I am letting you know of Neil’s passing. He was a great talent and man, husband and father. He shall be sorely missed. With his passing, his work and plays live on and will be enjoyed by many generations to come. I miss him deeply and always.”