This weekend we lost two legendary men, Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain on Saturday and famous playwright Neil Simon on Sunday. Simon, often revered as the “King of Comedy Playwrights” passed away on August 26, at the age of 91. According to Variety, the talented and prolific playwright, whose main genre was comedy and autobiography, was responsible for bringing a slew of critically well-received and enjoyable comedic successes to Broadway, film and TV.
The author penned over 30 plays and almost as many movie screenplays. The screenplays were mainly adaptations from Simon’s plays. In addition to the screen adaptations of his plays, he penned successful and well-known picture scripts such as Murder by Death, The Goodbye Girl, and The Heartbreak Kid.
Neil Simon also has the distinction of receiving more Oscar and Tony nominations than any other authors. Some of his notable works include Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Odd Couple, Lost in Yonkers and Biloxi Blues. The playwright won the Pulitzer-prize for drama in 1991 for the side-splittingly funny “Lost in Yonkers.”
Being entertaining was Neil Simon’s main goal, and he famously said,
“… My idea of the ultimate achievement in a comedy is to make a whole audience fall onto the floor, writhing and laughing so hard that some of them pass out.”
Other major accomplishments attributed to Neil Simon was that he was the first playwright who had a Broadway theater named for him, the Neil Simon Theatre. Additionally, during one season, the popular Simon had a total of four plays running at the same time on Broadway.
Neil Simon’s plays made him very wealthy, and since many of them were adapted into successful films, he was made even wealthier. The films also earned him four Academy Award nods. He leaves behind an enduring legacy, and per Networthroll, Simon additionally leaves behind a sizable $83.5 million to his estate.
Neil Simon married five times, and he married one of his wives, actress Diane Lander, twice. Reuters reports that the renowned playwright is survived by his wife Elaine Joyce, and his three daughters.
According to Neil Simon’s representatives, he passed away after being on life-support at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital in NYC. In the end, he died from complications stemming from pneumonia. When Simon was admitted to NY Presbyterian he had the pneumonia in his lungs.
Neil Simon’s long-time publicist Bill Evans said that he donated a kidney to the Odd Couple playwright in 2004. Recently, Simon reportedly suffered from renal failure, dementia and Alzheimer’s, according to the Daily Mirror.
Evans said that “Simon [was] a major figure in American culture.” He also said that “It was wonderful to be in his life and for him to be in my life. It has been so great to be part of all of it.”