Random IS Robin Leach and John McCain shuffling off to the afterworld together. But random REALLY IS Neil Simon joining them. Because Neil Simon’s publicist and friend Bill Evans confirms to The New York Times that the legendary master of comedy died today. TMZ says that Neil Simon died at 1 this morning EST. His wife, Elaine Joyce Simon, and his daughters, Ellen and Nancy Simon were with him at the time. He had been on life support after he was hospitalized with renal failure and complications from pneumonia. Neil, who also had Alzheimer’s and dementia, got a kidney transplant from Bill Evans in 2004. He was 91.
Neil Simon was born and raised in NYC, and after graduating high school and spending a minute in the Army Air Force Reserve, he started writing laughs for TV and radio shows before writing his first play Come Blow Your Horn. Now, most people’s first plays debut in Mom And Dad’s Living Room Theater for an audience consisting of stuffed animals, a drunk mom and dad who are drinking to get through it, and their family dog who is also drinking to get through it. But Come Blow Your Horn debuted on Broadway in 1961 and ran for almost two years. That kicked off Neil Simon’s reign as the Broadway King of Comedy, and not long after Come Blow Your Horn closed, Barefoot in the Park opened on Broadway in 1963, and in 1965, what many would consider his biggest hit, The Odd Couple, opened and instantly made him a STAH! The Odd Couple also won him his first Tony.
Throughout his long career, he continued to churn out gifts to the theater like Plaza Suite (1968), The Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1969), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971), The Sunshine Boys (1972), I Ought To Be In Pictures (1980), Brighton Beach Memoirs (1982), Biloxi Blues (1985), The Female Odd Couple (1985), Broadway Bound (1986), Lost in Yonkers (1991), Jake’s Women (1992), Laughter on the 23rd Floor (1993), and Proposals (1997). He also wrote the book for the musicals Sweet Charity, Promises, Promises, The Goodbye Girl, and They’re Playing Our Song.
Many, many of his plays were turned into movies and he wrote the screenplay for ’em.
He’s been nominated for 17 Tonys (winning 3), 4 Oscars, and 4 Emmys. Lost in Yonkers also won him the Pulitzer Prize. And he got a Broadway theater named after him in 1983.
He was married five times including to his second wife Marsha Mason. He had three daughters: Ellen, Nancy, and Bryn.
And now let’s end with Neil Simon shading Los Angeles so hard that the temperature temporarily dropped to 30 degrees here:
“When its 100 degrees in New York, it’s 72 in Los Angeles. When its 30 degrees in New York, in Los Angeles it’s still 72. However, there are 6 million interesting people in New York, and only 72 in Los Angeles.”
But seriously, it’s 71 right now in Los Angeles, I’ll have Neil Simon’s ass know!
Rest in peace, Neil Simon. Your words of comedy will live on for the rest of eternity, and yes that includes 15-year-olds butchering your jokes in high school drama class. And yes, I say that as a 15-year-old who definitely butchered a Neil Simon joke in high school drama class.