An excerpt from the IMDB page for Neil Simon’s biography summarizes his career very well:
Almost every one of his 30-plus plays, mostly Broadway comedies, has also been adapted into a motion picture– the greatest such achievement of any playwright/author, even surpassing William Shakespeare. As a result, Simon has received more Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer in the history of show business.
Some years ago I read both of Neil Simon’s books Neil Simon’s Memoirs and Rewrites: A Memoir because for anyone who has ever had any ambitions to be a writer for movies or Broadway, Neil Simon, along with Woody Allen is just about the best there has ever been.
I was so impressed with the ups and downs of Simon’s life as a writer and the incredible number of hours and hard work it took to write and then re-write so many times for so many of his plays until he got the rhythm and the timing of each line – just right.
Show business is one of the toughest businesses there is and Simon went through his share of financial problems along the way of becoming one of the greatest writers of comedy of all time. He also signed away the rights to arguably his greatest play “The Odd Couple” too soon and for far less money that he should have gotten. Soon after the Odd Couple became a highly successful TV series in the 1970’s.
Simon’s personal life was extremely challenging, losing his wife of 20 years to breast cancer when she was only on her late 30’s – leaving him to raise his 2 daughters alone. One can only imagine how difficult it was go through something like that as he tried to move on with his life and career. Simon was married 5 times, including twice to the same woman and also to actress Marcia Mason.
Neil Simon died yesterday, August 26th at age 91 – and left the world with a body of work that is a standard for all writers who will follow. He will be greatly missed and his great works will always be admired and remembered.