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Neil Simon, playwright of such comedies as The Odd Couple and The Sunshine Boys, died Sunday at the age of 91.
Shortly after news of his death broke, stars paid their respects on social media to the iconic scribe who boasted more combined Oscar (four) and Tony (17, winning three times) nominations than any other writer.
“There is no American comedy writer whose work isn’t influenced by the rhythm and music of Neil Simon’s words. With gratitude, Doc,” The Big Bang Theory executive producer Bill Prady tweeted.
With a career that spanned five decades and more than 40 plays, many of which he also adapted for the screen, Simon is arguably the most commercially successful American playwright in history.
“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,” wrote actor Harvey Fierstein.
Nathan Lane, who appeared on Broadway in the premiere of Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor in 1993 and in a revival of The Odd Couple opposite Matthew Broderick in 2005, also paid tribute in a statement.
“Neil Simon will always be one of my theatrical heroes, and I am so proud to have played a small part in his unparalleled career and remarkable legacy,” Lane said. “My heartfelt condolences to his wife, Elaine, and the entire Simon family.”
Said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement: “Today we mourn a New York Broadway and film legend. Neil Simon channeled the New York sensibility, helping to show the world, character by character, what it means to be a New Yorker. Neil Simon was the first living playwright to have a Broadway theater named after him and received more Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer. We will miss him greatly, but his work will be with us and keep us laughing for generations to come.”
See how others remembered Simon below.
There is no American comedy writer whose work isn’t influenced by the rhythm and music of Neil Simon’s words. With gratitude, Doc.
— Bill Prady (@billprady) August 26, 2018
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.
— Harvey Fierstein (@HarveyFierstein) August 26, 2018
What an enduring legacy Neil Simon leaves with his passing. The laughter and joy he leaves behind is priceless. pic.twitter.com/DniYQanbIP
— Al Roker (@alroker) August 26, 2018
A lot of my heroes are dying. What a sad few weeks this has been. #RIPNeilSimon
Neil Simon, a Master of Comedy on Broadway and Beyond, Is Dead at 91 https://t.co/F4qd2RQZve
— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) August 26, 2018
“There’s no more money anyone can pay me that I need. There are no awards they can give me that I haven’t won. I have no reason to write another play except that I am alive and I like to do it”-Neil Simon #RIP GIANT of the American Theatre #ThanksForTheLaughs pic.twitter.com/NZIVGPLdst
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) August 26, 2018
Neil Simon. Comedy giant. RIP
— Brent Spiner (@BrentSpiner) August 26, 2018
Neil Simon brought a unique eye for life to stage and screen. Through sharp characters and dialogue, he prodded us – in laughter and tears – to contend with the traits that make us human. Another voice who understood the power of art in our American story now belongs to eternity.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) August 26, 2018
Oh beloved Neil Simon. RIP great one. 🙁
— Kristin Chenoweth (@KChenoweth) August 26, 2018
I was blessed to have worked with the great Neil Simon. His work, even at worst, was a joy to behold. He made the world laugh for decades. He touched us. He enlightened us. He employed so many of us. I’m so grateful to have known him. Make God laugh, Doc. #NeilSimon
— jason alexander (@IJasonAlexander) August 26, 2018
We lost a giant .. one of the most prolific playwright s in history . THANK YOU Neil for a life changing experience.
REST IN PEACE in your brilliance #neilsimon
— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) August 26, 2018
If no one ever took risks, Michaelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor.—-Neil Simon. July 4, 1927–August 26, 2018
— John B. Larroquette (@johnlarroquette) August 26, 2018
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