Mark Hamill Remembers Playwright Neil Simon

Over the course of a prolific career that included more than 30 plays - including hits "The Odd Couple" and "Barefoot in the Park" - and multiple accolades, Simon drew on the sometimes-unexpected comedy lurking in the lives of middle-class Americans, inspiring laughs of recognition from vast audiences. According to a report by TMZ, he passed away on around 1 a.m. ET on Sunday morning, suffering from complications due to pneumonia.

Simon was a multiple Tony Award victor, having been nominated 17 times and winning three, and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2006. Simon also penned the books for such musicals as "Little Me", "Sweet Charity" and "They're Playing Our Song".

"The good mechanic knows how to take a auto apart; I love to take the human mind apart and see how it works", he told the Paris Review in 1994.

Most of the great Simon comedies combined a profound understanding of the striving imperfections and familial love embodied in the lives of most ordinary, working-class Jewish families. "I thought it was a grim, dark play about two lonely men", he told the Paris Review in 1994, in an interview conducted by "Inside the Actors Studio's" James Lipton.

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Many of Simon's plays were adapted for movies and TV.

Broderick in 1983 made both his Broadway debut in Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and his movie debut in Simon's "Max Dugan Returns". First time I met him he looked at me and said, "Where the hell did they find you?" Simon was mostly raised by his mom and was mentored by his older brother Danny.

"No playwright in Broadway's long and raucous history has so dominated the boulevard as the softly astringent Simon", The New Yorker's John Lahr wrote in 2010. The New Yorker credits him with "pioneering...the genre of situation comedy" on television, including The Phil Silvers Show on the small screen. His classic comedies include "The Odd Couple" and "The Sunshine Boys". Critically well-received, the 1963 comedy, directed by Mike Nichols, concerned the tribulations of a pair of newlyweds, played by Elizabeth Ashley and Robert Redford, who lived on the top floor of a NY brownstone. She was his fourth wife after Joan Baim, Marsha Mason and Diane Lander.

A statement from his representatives provided to Fox News confirms that his wife, Elaine Joyce Simon, and two daughters, Ellen and Nancy, were by his side when he died. I like writing for actors. "And even after all this time, I feel I have lost a mentor, a father figure, a deep influence in my life and work", he said.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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