Writer Neil Simon, whose comedies dominated Broadway for decades and became a Hollywood staple, died Sunday at 91, The New York Times and other US media reported, citing his publicist.
Simon, who started his career as a television writer, penned comedies about 20th-century family life, including "Barefoot in the Park," "Plaza Suite," "The Sunshine Boys," "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and "Biloxi Blues."
Many of his works were adapted for film, and his 1965 theatre classic "The Odd Couple," about two divorced friends sharing a New York apartment, became a hit movie and long-running television show.
Simon's work was a touchstone of American middle-class culture since the 1960s. Vanity Fair magazine wrote that he "transformed" American comedy.
"I think the coolest thing about #NeilSimon's legendary work is that people who know nothing about the theatre are familiar with SOMETHING he wrote, even if they don't know it," Broadway actor Alex Boniello tweeted.
Simon started his career writing for radio. In the 1950s he worked in television including "Your Show of Shows" and "The Phil Silvers Show," rubbing elbows with contemporaries including Woody Allen, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks.
His greatest success came when he started writing for the stage. "The Odd Couple" brought the first of three Tony Awards.
Simon was nearly as prolific a screenwriter, and was known, among other films, for the adaptation of "The Odd Couple," starring Jack Lemmon as the neurotic Felix and Walter Matthau as slovenly room-mate Oscar.
The television adaptation starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman became one of the biggest series of the 1970s.
In 2007, Simon told Vanity Fair, in the wise-cracking style typical of his writing, that the most overrated virtue is "humility, unless you really need it."
Simon was married since 1999 to actress Elaine Joyce, his fourth wife.
Actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein called Simon's death "a loss for the entire entertainment industry."
"He could write a joke that would make you laugh, define the character, the situation, and even the world's problems," Fierstein wrote on Twitter.dpa