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Remembering Neil Simon

August 30, 2018

My tribute/recollection of the prolific and great playwright, Neil Simon, who died this week at age 91, begins with the words of another icon, Carl Reiner.

“What can you call a man who wrote 32 Broadway plays, 26 screenplays, 8 made for TV movies, and had four hit plays running on Broadway at the same time? The only thing that comes to mind is “Pure Genius!”

As the incredible work of Mr. Simon tumbles around in my mind, a door opens, yielding a really small sample.

In “The Odd Couple,” pesky “Felix” (Jack Lemmon) calls “Oscar” (Walter Matthau) at Shea Stadium, asking what he wants for dinner, causing him to miss a triple play. (The batter was Bill Mazeroski).

One other with a sprinkle of baseball, from Mr. Simon’s “Chapter Two.”

In a great introductory telephone conversation, between what amounts to Neil Simon played by James Caan and Marcia Mason, essentially playing herself, Caan suddenly says “damn it.”

Mason wonders why and is informed, “The Yankees left a runner on third.” Her reply is “now I really won’t sleep.”

In my favorite Simon work among the so many great ones, “The Sunshine Boys,” I believe it was Matthau’s “Willy Clark” regarding George Burns’ “Al Lewis,” who although the two had gone many years not speaking, offers great praise about his ability.

Certainly that applies to Neil Simon, a prolific, talented writer who made us laugh hard, perhaps cry at times and surely put out ideas and concepts that made us better, if we adhered.

 

Neil Simon, pictured above, which he surely was/is and where he just might be now.

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