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Neil Simon, comedy master and prolific playwright, dies at 91

Playwright Neil Simon, Creator of ‘The Odd Couple’ and ‘Barefoot in the Park,’ Dies at 91

He won Tony Awards for The Odd Couple, Biloxi Blues, and Lost in Yonkers and a fourth for his overall contribution to American theatre.

TMZ reported that Simon died at 1 a.m. Sunday after being on life support with a failing kidney, dementia and Alzheimer's.

In 2006, Simon won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, which honors work that draws from the American experience.

In a 1997 interview with The Washington Post, Simon reflected on his success: "I know that I have reached the pinnacle of rewards".

Big Bang Theory creator Bill Prady said there was "no American comedy writer whose work isn't influenced by the rhythm and music of Neil Simon's words".

In 1983 he gained the rare accolade of having a NY stage, the Neil Simon Theatre, named in his honor. He wrote his first Broadway play in 1961 with Come Blow Your Horn.

Simon had a rare stumble in the fall of 2009, when a Broadway revival of his "Brighton Beach Memoirs" closed abruptly after only nine performances because of poor ticket sales. First time I met him he looked at me and said, "Where the hell did they find you?" It was a hit from the get-go with critics and audiences during its gestation in Washington, but Simon and Nichols kept making changes, including in the play's ending, right up until it was time to pack up and move to the Plymouth Theater in NY. Simon wrote more than 30 plays.

Simon is survived by his wife, actress Elaine Joyce, and his daughters, Nancy, Ellen and Bryn.

Simon began his writing career working with his brother, providing scripts for radio and TV shows, scoring an early job with Sid Caesar's legendary series Your Show Of Shows, which also launched the careers of Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and others. The New Yorker credits him with "pioneering...the genre of situation comedy" on television, including The Phil Silvers Show on the small screen. There was delicious slapstick, to be sure: The poker players chasing after the disconsolate, newly divorced Felix to make sure he didn't harm himself.

His later film career included adaptations of his own plays, like 1968's The Odd Couple starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, for which all three returned for a sequel thirty years later.

He was married 5 times to 4 different women - he married his third wife twice - and had 3 children.

"I suspect I shall keep on writing in a vain search for that ideal play".

"The good mechanic knows how to take a auto apart; I love to take the human mind apart and see how it works".