Neil Simon, prolific playwright and screenwriter, dies at 91

Neil Simon with Goldie Hawn during the filming of

Longtime friend Bill Evans announced his death early Sunday in a NY hospital of complications from pneumonia.

The cause of death was complications with pneumonia, according to a statement from public relations firm DKC/O&M. His wife, Elaine Joyce Simon, was at his bedside along with his daughters, Ellen Simon and Nancy Simon.

Over the course of a prolific career that included more than 30 plays - including hits "The Odd Couple" and "Barefoot in the Park" - and multiple accolades, Simon drew on the sometimes-unexpected comedy lurking in the lives of middle-class Americans, inspiring laughs of recognition from vast audiences. He also wrote other famous hits including Barefoot in the Park, Promises, Promises, and more.

Simon received the Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for "Lost in Yonkers", which also earned him a Tony Award. He had four shows on Broadway at the same time at one point, and that was only a portion of his work ethic.

- Tony Award-winning actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein, via Twitter.

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He was nominated for an Oscar for the latter, as well as for the films of California Suite, The Sunshine Boys, and The Odd Couple.

"The Odd Couple", Simon's play about two mismatched bachelors who share a NY apartment, has had a particularly remarkable life.

Besides Sweet Charity (1966) and Promises, Promises (1968), Simon wrote the books for several other musicals.

The first play Simon wrote was 1961's "Come Blow Your Horn", which ran on Broadway for more than a year to favorable reviews. I didn't realize until someone said after the first reading that the play was really a love letter to my mother!

Simon was a powerhouse in the American theater world. The show marked "his last major success on Broadway", according to The New York Times.

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Simon said he misjudged the work. "Laughter on the 23rd Floor". Simon's wife of 20 years, Joan Baim, died of cancer in 1973, after which he married actress Marsha Mason, who starred in the 1979 film version of "Chapter Two".

His semi-autobiographical trilogy - "Brighton Beach Memoirs", "Biloxi Blues" and "Broadway Bound - was a fixture on Broadway in the 1980s".

In the second half of the 20th century, Simon was the American theater's most successful and prolific playwrights, often chronicling middle class issues and fears.

Many of his plays were adapted into movies and one, The Odd Couple, became a popular TV series. He was also a Kennedy Center honoree in 1995 and won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2006.

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