Sam Simon, co-creator of the widely popular cartoon sitcom, The Simpsons, passed away Sunday, March 8. He was 59. Simon was also a philanthropist and his charity foundation announced his death. This news was confirmed by his agent, Andy Patman. Specific details about the location of Simon’s death have not been shared yet. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011, which ultimately claimed his life. His first job as a cartoonist was in 1981, as a storyboard artist and writer for Filmation Studios. Later, he was hired as a writer for the sitcom, Taxi.
Simon worked on the cartoon series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. He was also a writer for other sitcoms such as Cheers. He helped shape The Simpsons when it turned into a sitcom in 1989. He created the lifelike banter of the show’s characters by having the voice actors record together, giving the show its touch of unconventional humor amid a family setting. He also hired and established the show’s original writers.
Simon left The Simpsons in 1993 following the show’s fourth season. Co-creator of the sitcom, Matt Groening, often disagreed with Simon. Simon himself admitted that he could be difficult to work with. Despite the hostile separation, Simon kept the title of executive producer for the show and received royalties from video and DVD sales. These royalties earned him millions of dollars long after he left The Simpsons.
With his millions, Simon started his namesake charity foundation which focuses on rescuing stray dogs and training them to assist the disabled, including war veterans. He also donated to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Los Angeles food bank, Mercy for Animals, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which fights against whale hunting. In an interview in the year 2013, Simon expressed his wish to donate all his money to good causes upon his death.
Simon switched careers often after leaving The Simpsons. He worked on the George Carlin Show and the long-running Drew Carey Show. He also participated in professional poker games. In 1997, he became the manager of Lamon Brewster, who won the World Heavyweight Championship in 2004. In addition, he was a close friend of radio host Howard Stern and a frequent guest on his show.
Simon opened the door for other popular cartoons such as South Park, Futurama, and King of the Hill. There would be no adult-based cartoon humor, or at least it would not be at its current level of popularity, if it were not for Simon’s original setup and unique writing for The Simpsons. The lead character of The Simpsons, the befuddled and goofy Homer Simpson, became an archetype for comedic male leads. The passing of the creative and kind-hearted Simon, who loved animals and donated generously for their well-being and nourishment, will leave a gap in the writing and animation world that will be difficult to fill.
To quote Simon from an interview given to Hollywood Reporter in the year 2013, his legacy stands as such: “The truth is, I have more money than I’m interested in spending. Everyone in my family is taken care of. And I enjoy this.”
By Danielle Kral
Hawaii News Now
Photo by Hornet 18- Flickr License