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Neil Simon Dies; Legendary Playwright Was 91 Years Old

Neil Simon, one of the most successful and well-known playwrights of the 20th century, died early Sunday morning after having been on life support.

He was 91 years old.

Neil Simon

“Neil Simon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright, died last night at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City,” reads a statement from Simon’s rep, adding of how/why he passed away:

“The cause was complications from pneumonia.

“His wife, Elaine Joyce Simon, was at his bedside along with Mr. Simon’s daughters, Ellen Simon and Nancy Simon.

TMZ writes that Simon also suffered from a failing kidney, along with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Simon was nominated for a quarter Academy Awards and 17 Tony Awards during his prolific career.

Moreover, his works led to 50 Tony nominations for the actors and actresses who starred in them.

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Simon was responsible for over 30 on Broadway, including four that ran simultaneously in 1966: “Sweet Charity,” “The Star-Spangled Girl,” “The Odd Couple” and “Barefoot in the Park.”

We’re you’ve heard of The Odd Couple.

It was this production that led to mainstream stardom for Simon, as the story was turned into a movie and multiple television shows.

The Odd Couple told the tale of two mismatched bachelors who shared an apartment and became unexpected friends.

In 1991, Simon won the Pulitzer Prize “Lost in Yonkers.” 

He was also a Kennedy Center honoree in 1995 and won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2006.

Oh, and here’s a cool fact: Simon was the first playwright to have a Broadway theater named after him.

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A play is “like the birth of a child for him,” producer Emanuel Azenberg told the Washington Post in 1997, adding at the time:

“Because he’s written so many plays, people assume his typewriter types on automatic pilot. They don’t assume that he has a deep emotional commitment to each one.

“And he does.”

Simon was married to dancer Joan Baim, who died 20 years into the marriage from cancer.

He then wed Marsha Mason, although they eventually got a divorce.

He was then married to Diane Lander … on two different occasions. 

At the time of his death he was married to actress Elaine Joyce, whom he married in 1999. Simon survived by three children.

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He’s the third major American figure to pass away this month.

Previously, Aretha Franklin died of pancreatic cancer.

And Arizona senator John McCain died just yesterday of brain cancer.

May they all rest in peace.

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Aretha Franklin Dies; Legendary Singer was 76

Aretha Franklin, one of the most successful and influential solo artists in music history, died on Thursday morning after a lengthy battle with cancer.

She was 76 years old.

A number of reporters and outlets had warned the public ahead of time that Franklin’s time was sadly near, as multiple sources confirmed over the weekend that the legendary artist was gravely ill.

She ended up passing away while under hospice care in her Detroit home.

She was surrounded by friends and family members at the time.

In an unusual move, a tribute concert produced by Live Nation and spearheaded by Sony Music Chief Creative Officer Clive Davis, who signed Franklin to Arista Records in 1980, was actually announced prior to her passing.

The event will likely be titled “Clive Davis Presents: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin” and is scheduled to be at Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 14.

The legendary singer had not performed for an audience since November of 2017.

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Sources had even said that Franklin’s weight plummeted down to 85 pounds by the time she passed away.

Ahead of scheduled concerts in March and April of this year, the singer was forced to cancel the performances under doctor’s orders.

Dubbed The Queen of Soul decades ago, Franklin has been cited by contemporary superstars such as Beyonce and Mariah Carey as being a major influence and role model.

Her rundown of achievements is almost too long to list in one place.

But we’ll give it a shot…

– Franklin was nominated for 44 Grammy Wwards.

– She won 18 Grammy Awards over the course of her career.

– This figure represents the third-most Grammys ever won by an individual.

– From 1968 through 1975, she won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance every single year.

– Along with her most well-known song, “Respect,” the singer shot to fame with hits including “Natural Woman,” “I Say A Little Prayer” and “Chain of Fools,” many of which remain relevant today.

– Franklin was the first woman to be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

– She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2005.

– In 2010, she was named in the greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone. 

Before Franklin even passed away, as soon as news broke that she was seriously ill, tributes and notes of sorrow started pouring forward on social media.

Missy Elliott summed it up well on Twitter when she wrote the following on Monday morning:

My prayers are with Aretha Franklin & her family during this difficult time. We MUST CELEBRATE the Living Legends while they are here to see it. So many have given us decades of Timeless music.

In 2017, after 56 years as a singer and songwriter, Franklin said she was retiring, saying at the time:

“I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from, and where it is now.

I’ll be pretty much satisfied, but I’m not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. That wouldn’t be good either.”

Expect the messages of sorrow and sympathy to continue for many hours, days and weeks.

What a career and what a woman.

May Aretha Franklin rest in peace.

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