Light humor was the lifeblood of playwright Neil Simon

NEW YORK (AP) – When grasp playwright Neil Simon accepted the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2006, he was visibly nervous. However his light humor was evident.

“It took me six years to jot down my first play,” he stated, recalling that he discovered the title for “Come Blow Your Horn” from considered one of his daughter’s nursery rhyme books. He stated it turned out to be “a so-so play” that was was “a so-so film” with Frank Sinatra.

Nevertheless it was profitable sufficient that Simon thought of calling his subsequent works “The Sheep’s within the Meadow” and “The Cow’s within the Corn.”

FILE- In this Sept. 22, 1994, file photo, american playwright Neil Simon answers questions during an interview in Seattle, Wash. Simon, a master of comedy whose laugh-filled hits such as "The Odd Couple," "Barefoot in the Park" and his "Brighton Beach" trilogy dominated Broadway for decades, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Photo/Gary Stuart, File)

FILE- In this Sept. 22, 1994, file photo, american playwright Neil Simon answers questions during an interview in Seattle, Wash. Simon, a master of comedy whose laugh-filled hits such as "The Odd Couple," "Barefoot in the Park" and his "Brighton Beach" trilogy dominated Broadway for decades, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Photo/Gary Stuart, File)

FILE- On this Sept. 22, 1994, file photograph, american playwright Neil Simon solutions questions throughout an interview in Seattle, Wash. Simon, a grasp of comedy whose laugh-filled hits equivalent to “The Odd Couple,” “Barefoot within the Park” and his “Brighton Seashore” trilogy dominated Broadway for many years, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Picture/Gary Stuart, File)

“For the primary time,” he stated, “I had cash within the financial institution. Sure, sir, sure sir, three baggage full!”

Simon, who died Sunday at 91, was a meticulous joke-smith, peppering his performs, particularly the early ones, with one-liners and humorous conditions that critics stated typically got here on the expense of character and believability.

Regardless of. For a lot of his profession, audiences embraced his work, which frequently centered on middle-class, city life, lots of the plots drawn from his personal private expertise. His characters battled melancholy, alcoholism and loneliness.

Simon’s stage successes included “The Odd Couple,” ”Barefoot within the Park,” the “Brighton Seashore” trilogy, “The Prisoner of Second Avenue,” ”Final of the Crimson Scorching Lovers,” ”The Sunshine Boys,” ”Plaza Suite,” ”Chapter Two,” ”Candy Charity” and “Guarantees, Guarantees.” Lots of his performs have been tailored into motion pictures and one, “The Odd Couple,” even grew to become a preferred tv sequence.

For seven months in 1967, he had 4 productions operating on the similar time on Broadway: “Barefoot within the Park,” ”The Odd Couple,” ”Candy Charity” and “The Star-Spangled Lady.”

Simon’s potential to acknowledge life’s little annoyances – too many pillows piled on a settee, being advised as a child you could not eat any extra cookies – linked with audiences. A scene in “The Odd Couple” when Felix Unger passive-aggressively leaves a word on Oscar’s pillow – “We’re all out of Corn Flakes. F.U.” – acquired big laughs.

The lack of Simon was particularly onerous for playwrights and screenwriters. Randi Mayem Singer, who co-penned the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire,” mourned Simon as a “really nice American storyteller.”

“For those who write comedy, in case you write interval, you discovered one thing from Neil Simon,” Singer stated.

Kristoffer Diaz, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, took to Twitter to recollect ?the icon: “In a unique life, I’d have liked to have been my era’s Neil Simon. I am unhappy that we do not have that sort of voice.” ”Massive Bang Idea” creator Invoice Prady wrote that “there isn’t any American comedy author whose work is not influenced by the rhythm and music of Neil Simon’s phrases.”

Simon was the recipient of 4 Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, the Kennedy Middle honors (1995) and, in 1983, he even had a Broadway theater named after him when the Alvin was rechristened the Neil Simon Theatre.

The bespectacled, mild-looking Simon (described in a New York Occasions journal profile as wanting like an accountant or librarian who dressed “simply this aspect of drab”) was a relentless author – and rewriter.

“I’m most alive and most fulfilled sitting alone in a room, hoping that these phrases forming on the paper within the Smith-Corona would be the first excellent play ever written in a single draft,” Simon wrote within the introduction to one of many many anthologies of his performs.

Simon’s personal life figured most prominently in what grew to become often called his “Brighton Seashore” trilogy – “Brighton Seashore Memoirs,” ”Biloxi Blues” and “Broadway Certain” – which many take into account his best works. In them, Simon’s alter ego, Eugene Morris Jerome, makes his means from childhood to the U.S. Military to lastly, on the verge of maturity, a budding profession as a author.

Simon initially began as a radio and TV author together with his older brother, Danny. But Simon grew dissatisfied with tv writing and the community restrictions that accompanied it. Out of his frustration got here “Come Blow Your Horn,” which centered on two brothers (not not like Danny and Neil Simon) making an attempt to determine what to do with their lives. The comedy ran for greater than a 12 months on Broadway.

Nevertheless it was his second play, “Barefoot within the Park,” that basically put Simon on the map. Critically well-received, the 1963 comedy, directed by Mike Nichols, involved the tribulations of a pair of newlyweds, performed by Elizabeth Ashley and Robert Redford, who lived on the highest flooring of a New York brownstone.

Simon cemented that success two years later with “The Odd Couple,” a comedy about bickering roommates: Oscar, a gruff, slovenly sportswriter, and Felix, a neat, fussy photographer. Walter Matthau, as Oscar, and Artwork Carney, as Felix, starred on Broadway, with Matthau and Jack Lemmon taking part in the roles in a profitable film model. Jack Klugman and Tony Randall appeared within the TV sequence, which ran on ABC from 1970 to 1975. A feminine stage model was carried out on Broadway in 1985, and a TV sequence revival was carried out in 2015 starring Matthew Perry.

In addition to “Candy Charity” (1966), which starred Gwen Verdon as a goodhearted dance-hall hostess, and “Guarantees, Guarantees” (1968), primarily based on Billy Wilder’s movie “The Residence,” Simon wrote the books for a number of different musicals, together with “Little Me” (1962), that includes a hardworking Sid Caesar in seven completely different roles, and “They’re Enjoying Our Music” (1979), which had music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager.

Lots of his performs have been was movies as nicely. In addition to “The Odd Couple,” he wrote the screenplays for film variations of “Barefoot within the Park,” ”The Sunshine Boys,” ”The Prisoner of Second Avenue” and extra.

Simon additionally wrote authentic screenplays, the very best recognized being “The Goodbye Lady,” starring Richard Dreyfuss as a struggling actor, and “The Heartbreak Child,” which featured Charles Grodin as a not too long ago married man, lusting to drop his new spouse for a blonde goddess performed by Cybill Shepherd.

Simon was married 5 occasions, twice to the identical lady. He’s survived by his fourth spouse, actress Elaine Joyce; two daughters, Ellen and Nancy; three grandchildren; and one great-grandson.

Simon’s dying additionally hit residence for actor Matthew Broderick, who made his Broadway debut in Simon’s “Brighton Seashore Memoirs” in 1983 and in addition that 12 months made his film debut in Simon’s “Max Dugan Returns.”

“It was my nice luck that my very first Broadway play was written by Neil Simon. He additionally wrote my first movie. I owe him a profession,” Broderick wrote. “The theater has misplaced a brilliantly humorous, unthinkably great author and even in any case this time I really feel I’ve misplaced a mentor, a father determine, a deep affect in my life and work.”

___

Observe Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits .

FILE- In this April 21, 2008, file photo Neil Simon, center, his wife Elaine Joyce, left, and Lucie Arnaz pose for a picture at the reception for the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's Monte Cristo Award in New York. Simon, a master of comedy whose laugh-filled hits such as "The Odd Couple," "Barefoot in the Park" and his "Brighton Beach" trilogy dominated Broadway for decades, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

FILE- In this April 21, 2008, file photo Neil Simon, center, his wife Elaine Joyce, left, and Lucie Arnaz pose for a picture at the reception for the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's Monte Cristo Award in New York. Simon, a master of comedy whose laugh-filled hits such as "The Odd Couple," "Barefoot in the Park" and his "Brighton Beach" trilogy dominated Broadway for decades, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

FILE- On this April 21, 2008, file photograph Neil Simon, middle, his spouse Elaine Joyce, left, and Lucie Arnaz pose for an image on the reception for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Middle’s Monte Cristo Award in New York. Simon, a grasp of comedy whose laugh-filled hits equivalent to “The Odd Couple,” “Barefoot within the Park” and his “Brighton Seashore” trilogy dominated Broadway for many years, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Picture/Seth Wenig, File)

FILE- In this July 2, 1977, file photo, playwright Neil Simon, right, poses for a photo on the set of "The Cheap Detective" with Dom DeLuise. Simon, a master of comedy whose laugh-filled hits such as "The Odd Couple," "Barefoot in the Park" and his "Brighton Beach" trilogy dominated Broadway for decades, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Photo, File)

FILE- In this July 2, 1977, file photo, playwright Neil Simon, right, poses for a photo on the set of "The Cheap Detective" with Dom DeLuise. Simon, a master of comedy whose laugh-filled hits such as "The Odd Couple," "Barefoot in the Park" and his "Brighton Beach" trilogy dominated Broadway for decades, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Photo, File)

FILE- On this July 2, 1977, file photograph, playwright Neil Simon, proper, poses for a photograph on the set of “The Low-cost Detective” with Dom DeLuise. Simon, a grasp of comedy whose laugh-filled hits equivalent to “The Odd Couple,” “Barefoot within the Park” and his “Brighton Seashore” trilogy dominated Broadway for many years, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Picture, File)

FILE- In this Nov. 23, 1981, file photo playwright Neil Simon, left, and actor James Coco pose for a photo in New York during the New York announcement of a Broadway bound musical comedy, "Little Me." Simon, a master of comedy whose laugh-filled hits such as "The Odd Couple," "Barefoot in the Park" and his "Brighton Beach" trilogy dominated Broadway for decades, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Photo/Lederhandler, File)

FILE- In this Nov. 23, 1981, file photo playwright Neil Simon, left, and actor James Coco pose for a photo in New York during the New York announcement of a Broadway bound musical comedy, "Little Me." Simon, a master of comedy whose laugh-filled hits such as "The Odd Couple," "Barefoot in the Park" and his "Brighton Beach" trilogy dominated Broadway for decades, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Photo/Lederhandler, File)

FILE- On this Nov. 23, 1981, file photograph playwright Neil Simon, left, and actor James Coco pose for a photograph in New York in the course of the New York announcement of a Broadway sure musical comedy, “Little Me.” Simon, a grasp of comedy whose laugh-filled hits equivalent to “The Odd Couple,” “Barefoot within the Park” and his “Brighton Seashore” trilogy dominated Broadway for many years, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Picture/Lederhandler, File)

FILE - In a June 14, 2012 file photo, Neil Simon attends the opening night performance of the Broadway play "Harvey" in New York. Neil Simon, the playwright behind such comedic hits such as "The Odd Couple" and "Plaza Suite," died early Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018 of complications from pneumonia in a Manhattan hospital, according to Bill Evans, Simon's longtime friend and the Shubert Organization director of media relations. He was 91. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

FILE - In a June 14, 2012 file photo, Neil Simon attends the opening night performance of the Broadway play "Harvey" in New York. Neil Simon, the playwright behind such comedic hits such as "The Odd Couple" and "Plaza Suite," died early Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018 of complications from pneumonia in a Manhattan hospital, according to Bill Evans, Simon's longtime friend and the Shubert Organization director of media relations. He was 91. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

FILE – In a June 14, 2012 file photograph, Neil Simon attends the opening evening efficiency of the Broadway play “Harvey” in New York. Neil Simon, the playwright behind such comedic hits equivalent to “The Odd Couple” and “Plaza Suite,” died early Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018 of issues from pneumonia in a Manhattan hospital, in line with Invoice Evans, Simon’s longtime good friend and the Shubert Group director of media relations. He was 91. (Picture by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

FILE- In this Dec. 29, 1964, file photo american playwright Neil Simon, 37, is photographed in front of his typewriter in New York. Simon, a master of comedy whose laugh-filled hits such as "The Odd Couple," "Barefoot in the Park" and his "Brighton Beach" trilogy dominated Broadway for decades, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Photo/Dan Grossi, File)

FILE- In this Dec. 29, 1964, file photo american playwright Neil Simon, 37, is photographed in front of his typewriter in New York. Simon, a master of comedy whose laugh-filled hits such as "The Odd Couple," "Barefoot in the Park" and his "Brighton Beach" trilogy dominated Broadway for decades, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Photo/Dan Grossi, File)

FILE- On this Dec. 29, 1964, file photograph american playwright Neil Simon, 37, is photographed in entrance of his typewriter in New York. Simon, a grasp of comedy whose laugh-filled hits equivalent to “The Odd Couple,” “Barefoot within the Park” and his “Brighton Seashore” trilogy dominated Broadway for many years, died on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. He was 91. (AP Picture/Dan Grossi, File)

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