Hollywood is mourning Neil Simon.
Neil Simon operated in a space few writers could, successfully navigating the formidable gaps that separate the worlds of theater, movies and TV in a manner that established him as one of the most influential comedy writers of the 20th century.
The iconic playwright, remembered fondly for hits such as “The Odd Couple,” “Barefoot in the Park” and “Sweet Charity,” has died at 91
His domination of the field would continue for another 25 years, through “Lost in Yonkers” in 1991, making him the most successful American comic playwright ever and, for lack of much competition, probably the greatest.
Tributes poured out from those in the comedy field in response to the news of Simon’s death at the age of 91. Bill Prady, co-creator of the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” wrote on Twitter, “There is no American comedy writer whose work isn’t influenced by the rhythm and music of Neil Simon’s words.” Quinn Cummings, the child star of “The Goodbye Girl” and now a writer herself, said simply, “No one ever looks funnier than when Neil Simon’s words are coming out of their mouths.”
When someone commends me on having been a funny kid, I always say "That was the writer." No one ever looks funnier than when Neil Simon's words are coming out of their mouths.
A kind, brilliant man has left us today. May his memory be a blessing to his loved ones. https://t.co/hxPvqeRC4z
— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) August 26, 2018
TV journalist Dan Rather praised Simon’s “a unique eye for life.” Simon’s sharp characters and dialogue prodded his audience “to contend with the traits that make us human.”
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
“Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill thanked the “GIANT of the American Theatre” for the laughs and quoted Simon:
“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
None, however, cast a bigger or wider cultural shadow — over theater, movies and TV — than Simon, a sunshine boy who left behind a body of work whose light will continue to shine for ages.