NEW YORK (AP) — Tributes are pouring in from actors, fellow playwrights and other celebrities for Neil Simon, the American theater’s most successful and prolific playwright in the second half of the 20th century.
Simon, whose Broadway classics include “The Odd Couple” and “The Sunshine Boys,” died Sunday at age 91. Here are some of the reactions to his death:
“It was my great good fortune that my very first Broadway play was written by Neil Simon. He also wrote my first film. I owe him a career. The theater has lost a brilliantly funny, unthinkably wonderful writer and even after all this time I feel I have lost a mentor, a father figure, a deep influence in my life and work.”
— Hollywood and Broadway actor Matthew Broderick, who in 1983 made his Broadway debut in Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and his movie debut in Simon’s “Max Dugan Returns.”
“Neil Simon will always be one of my theatrical heroes and I am so proud to have played a small part in his unparalleled career and remarkable legacy. My heartfelt condolences to his wife Elaine and the entire Simon family.”
— Broadway actor Nathan Lane, who starred in three Broadway shows by Simon: “Broadway Bound,” ″Laughter on the 23rd Floor” and “The Odd Couple,” in a statement.
“He could write a joke that would make you laugh, define the character, the situation, and even the world’s problems. First time I met him he looked at me and said, “Where the hell did they find you?” What a gent.”
— Tony Award-winning actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein, via Twitter.
“Neil Simon, you wrote every character for me, you just didn’t know it at the time. Thank you. Rest in Hilarity.”
— Broadway star Jackie Hoffman, via Twitter
“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.”
— TV journalist Dan Rather, via Twitter.
“There is no American comedy writer whose work isn’t influenced by the rhythm and music of Neil Simon’s words.”
— Bill Prady, executive producer of the hit TV sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” via Twitter.
“I am deeply sad and hurting with the news of Neil’s passing. He was a great talent and man, husband and father. With his passing his plays and work live on and will be enjoyed by many generations to come. I will miss him deeply and always.”
— Actress and ex-wife Marsha Mason.
“Neil Simon was a great writer of comedy. He defined an era of theater in this country and can’t be replaced.”
— Playwright David Adjmi, via Twitter.
“To say that #NeilSimon was one of the primary influences on my life and career would be an understatement. His work, as both a participant and audience, has defined and shaped me on my own journeys and career trajectory. RIP to another lost legend.”
— Broadway and TV actor Josh Gad, via Twitter.
“If you write comedy, if you write period, you learned something from Neil Simon. A truly great American storyteller. RIP.”
— Randi Mayem Singer, who co-wrote the film “Mrs. Doubtfire,” via Twitter.
“The most famous playwright in American history has died. From humble beginnings in the Bronx, Neil Simon defined a generation of comedy and reflection on what it means to be human. He was an extraordinary writer and force in the world of theater. Thank you, Neil.”
— Actress Mayim Bialik, via Twitter.