Neil Simon: Comedy Giant Who Straddled The Worlds Of Theater, Movies, TV

Notably, the process didn’t always take, and Simon expressed his own frustrations with it. His original screenplays included the memorable romantic comedies “The Heartbreak Kid” and “The Goodbye Girl” — for which Richard Dreyfuss won an Oscar — but also the detective spoof “Murder By Death” and “The Marrying Man,” the latter a conspicuous flop that paired Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger.
Although he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for “Lost in Yonkers” — one of innumerable accolades amassed over his career — the box-office hits, by then, were few and far between.
It nevertheless serves as a testament to the durability of Simon’s work that his writing has not only survived across decades but allowed for multiple versions and new takes. “The Odd Couple,” for example, spawned the hit movie starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau and later the long-running 1970s sitcom, with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall. Simon later rewrote a female version of the play, which also inspired a more recent sitcom revival, albeit a pallid one, on CBS.
As noted, Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows” produced an inordinately successful roster of alumni, including Simon, Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, Carl Reiner, and Woody Allen.
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.


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