Tributes have been pouring in for playwright and Broadway icon Neil Simon after he passed away aged 91.
Simon, who died of pneumonia in hospital, was described as a “clutch hitter” by fellow Jewish writer and producer Mel Brooks, with whom he worked in the 1950s.
“When we needed the punchline… he delivered,” Brooks wrote on Twitter. “He also delivered 32 plays and over 20 movies. He was one of the sweetest and least jealous writers you could ever work with.”
The Pulitzer-winning playwright received more Tony and Oscar nominations than any other writer, and is best known for works such as The Odd Couple, The Sunshine Boys, the Brighton Beach Trilogy, Barefoot in the Park and Goodbye Girl.
Alongside Brooks and actor Carl Reiner, Simon was brought up in the Bronx to Jewish parents, and the trio enjoyed poking fun at their Jewish New York origins – a familiar background for much of their early audiences.
Writing in Tablet Magazine, American writer Rachel Shukert described their audiences as “upwardly mobile urbanites, spiritually, if not technically, New York Jews… people still close enough to their humble immigrant roots to enjoy having them mined for earthy humour, but comfortably assimilated out of the probability of anything truly horrible happening”.
Simon passed away in a Manhattan hospital, surrounded by his wife and two daughters. As a show of respect, the lights on Broadway are to be dimmed.