Legendary playwright, screenwriter and maker of amusement Neil Simon has died at his home in Manhattan at the age of 91. Beginning his professional career writing for television classics like Your Show of Shows and The Phil Silvers Show (experiences that inspired his hit play Laughter on the 23rd Floor), he became a household name through a jaw-dropping series of Broadway plays that included The Odd Couple (arguably his biggest success, which spawned an equally beloved movie and television series), Barefoot in the Park, Brighton Beach Memoirs, and seemingly countless more.
His writing connected with people because he populated his work with deeply flawed-yet-relatable and lovable characters. He also had a gift for transforming his own experiences into art, resulting in plays — and numerous screenplays in which he adapted his own work — that not only were entertaining but felt truly authentic. Looking back at the legacy Simon leaves behind is to glance at the funniest works of the 20th century, ones that were fueled by a genuine understanding of the human condition.
When a giant like Simon dies, the old cliches of “there will never be enough quite like him” are so quickly trotted out. But reread those words and I ask you, will we ever see another who was so prolific? So funny? So keenly able to capture the zeitgeist and cement it for the stage and/or screen, creating efforts that will outlive us all? Probably not, be one can hope. The world needs more authors of works that are so universal and deeply funny.
Let us know which film written by Neil Simon is your favorite, and share your thoughts on this giant of culture in the comments below. We lost someone irreplaceable here. Fortunately, the laughter he has given us is eternal.