Sam Simon, ‘The Simpsons’ co-creator, dies aged 59

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

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Simon pictured in 2008 at the 2008 World Series of Poker
Image: Matt Waldron.

Sam Simon has died, at the age of 59, on Sunday of colon cancer, a disease he was diagnosed with in 2012. One of the co-creators of the television series The Simpsons, Simon helped create the hugely successful series in 1989 alongside Matt Groening and James L. Brooks. He left the show in 1993 after roles as writer and character developer among others.

Before The Simpsons Simon had worked on several shows in various positions. During the 1980s he worked on shows such as Taxi, Cheers, and The Tracy Ullman Show. In 1989 he helped create The Simpsons with Brooks and Groening, and was responsible for hiring the show’s first writing team. Despite leaving the show in 1993 he kept the title of executive producer, and continued to receive tens of millions of dollars every season in royalties.

After his diagnosis he began to donate his fortune to charity, estimated at around US$100 million . He donated to and was an active voice for charities focusing on animal rights including PETA. The Sam Simon Foundation, an organization he founded in 2002, released a statement to TMZ after his death: “For those of us who knew him, his voice will forever echo in our minds; his sense of humor will continue to make us laugh; and his compassion and generosity will continue to impact our lives[…] Sam, you will be missed by many, but there is a particular sadness among our clinic staff. We have been together for so long, and your absence will forever leave a void in our lives.”

Speaking to NBC in November 2014, Simon said “Cancer has been a fight, a journey, an adventure and the most amazing experience of my life.”

Simon had no children and was twice divorced. His first wife was actress Jennifer Tilly, to whom he was married from 1984 until their split in 1991. He married Playboy Playmate Jami Ferrell in 2000; the pair divorced not long after.

Current executive producer of The Simpsons, Al Jean paid tribute to Simon via Twitter, tweeting “Just heard terrible news of death of @simonsam. A great man; I owe him everything.”