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New York City – and the World – Pays Tribute to Neil Simon

Category Broadway

|by Danielle Moore |


Celebrating the prolific playwright on Broadway and beyond

This week, Broadway celebrates a theater legend. On August 26, Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway playwright Neil Simon passed away due to complications from pneumonia at the age of 91.

Simon’s work garnered acclaim in the worlds of both stage and screen, and he was showered with awards, including four Tony Awards, four Writers Guild of America Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, as well as four Academy Award and Primetime Emmy Award nominations.   

With an acclaimed career that spanned stage and screen, Neil Simon’s comedies touched the lives of many (Photo: Getty Images/Jack Mitchell)

With an acclaimed career that spanned stage and screen, Neil Simon’s comedies touched the lives of many (Photo: Getty Images/Jack Mitchell)

Raised in the Bronx and Washington Heights before attending New York University, Simon made New York City a central character in many of his most revered works, including the semi-autobiographical plays Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, as well as Barefoot in the Park and the Pultizer Prize-winning Lost in Yonkers. As news of his passing circulated, New Yorkers and others paid heartfelt tributes to Simon’s life and work. Many perfomers took to Twitter to share the impact that Simon had on them. 

Playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein, whose play Torch Song will be revived on Broadway beginning in November, remembered his first encounter with Simon: “First time I met him he looked at me and said, ‘Where the hell did they find you?’ What a gent.”

Broadway actor Santino Fontana, who recently wrapped his run in Hello, Dolly! and will take on the title role in the Broadway-bound musical adaptation of Tootsie next year, recalled a similarly jocular first meeting: “…When I first met him I told him he had made a big impact on me when I was a kid. He responded with, ‘When, last week?’…Too many of us took what he did for granted. I’m looking forward to all of us rediscovering just how brilliant he was. Rest in Peace, Neil.”

Other actors, like Mara Wilson, also emphasized the influence that Simon had on them from a very young age: “If you didn’t do a Neil Simon monologue or play at least once in your life, you weren’t a real theater kid.”

“Thank you Neil Simon for the laughter of my childhood,” tweeted Jamie Lee Curtis. “Your plays and movies were my go-to for smart character comedy. Bravo. Bravo.” 

In 1983, Simon received a Broadway tribute in the form of the Neil Simon Theatre – now home to the Tony-winning revival of Angels in America – which was previously known as the Alvin, where his legacy will live on. The Broadway League has announced that, per tradition, it will dim its lights for one minute to honor the New York icon at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, August 30th

 

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