Neil Simon, legendary playwright who wrote Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park, dies at 91

After a prolific career including 17 Tony nominations and 3 wins, playwright Neil Simon has passed away. He was on life support and suffered from Alzheimer's and dementia.


                            Neil Simon, legendary playwright who wrote Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park, dies at 91

Neil Simon, one of the most prolific playwrights in American history, has died aged 91.

According to a report by TMZ, Simon died Sunday morning at 1 am ET after being on life support. He reportedly had a failing kidney and was also suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Simon grew up in New York City during the Great Depression, with his parents' financial hardships affecting their marriage, leaving him with an unhappy and unstable childhood. He often took refuge in movie theaters where he enjoyed watching the early comedians like Charlie Chaplin. After a few years in the Army Air Force Reserve, and after graduating from high school, he began writing comedy scripts for radio and some popular early television shows.

Simon's first big hit was 'Come Blow Your Horn' in 1961. It was followed by two more successful plays, 'Barefoot in the Park' (1963) and 'The Odd Couple' (1965), for which he won a Tony Award. It made him a national celebrity and "the hottest new playwright on Broadway." His style ranged from romantic comedy to farce to more serious dramatic comedy. Overall, he has garnered 17 Tony nominations and won three. During one season, he had four successful plays running on Broadway at the same time, and in 1983 became the only living playwright to have a New York theatre -- the Neil Simon Theatre -- named in his honor.

Before he became a Broadway icon, Simon wrote for television, including 'Your Show of Shows' with Sid Caesar and 'The Phil Silvers Show.' Simon was married to dancer Joan Baim, who died 20 years into the marriage from cancer. He then married Marsha Mason, whom he divorced. He was then married to Diane Lander, not once, but twice, and in 1999, he married actress Elaine Joyce, who remained by his side till his final days.

TMZ reports that a memorial service will take place on Thursday in New York City.

Neil Simon speaks during the American Theatre Wing Annual Spring Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on April 10, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
Neil Simon speaks during the American Theatre Wing Annual Spring Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on April 10, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)