Whether or not you know his name, you have undoubtedly benefitted from the great work of the American playwright Neil Simon, who died on Sunday in New York at the age of 91. His humor fundamentally shaped comedy writing on Broadway and across many mediums in the 20th century. Simon was one of the most successful Broadway playwrights of all time, and hits like Brighton Beach and Barefoot In the Park continue to be part of the theater curricula across the country. His most famous work might be The Odd Couple, which has been adapted for other mediums like film and television multiple times over.
Simon was also part of a coterie of men whose sensibilities, for better or worse, would come to define American comedy for their generation. Along with Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, he was on the now-legendary staff of Sid Caesar's Your Show Of Shows (Woody Allen was around that scene as well, but he was not on the staff, though many mistakenly believe he was). In 2006, Simon won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. He was also the winner of multiple Oscar and Tony Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize.
As Harvey Fierstein aptly put it, "Neil Simon - gone! A loss 4 the entire entertainment industry. He could write a joke that would make you laugh, define the character, the situation, and even the world's problems. First time I met him he looked at me and said, "Where the hell did they find you?" What a gent."
Per Time, Simon "died early Sunday of complications from pneumonia surrounded by family at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan."
Here, see reactions from celebrity fans, admirers and collaborators as they say goodbye to a once-in-a-lifetime talent: