‘Simpsons’ co-creator Sam Simondies at 59
By Alex Stanton, Staff Writer
Sam Simon, 59, a prolific television producer, director, writer, philanthropist, and animal rights activist, passed away on March 8, after a three-year battle with cancer. He was diagnosed as terminally ill in 2012 and given three to six months to live. He proved those estimates wrong and showed the world how much one person can truly give back to society.
Simon began his long and eventful career in the late 1970s as a writer for Filmation Studios’ cartoons and on the sitcom classic Taxi, which was developed in part by his future partner in creating The Simpsons, James L. Brooks. At only 25, Simon was named show runner for the first season of Taxi, before becoming a writer for Cheers, among other programs.
These gigs led to an executive producer position on The Tracey Ullman Show, which is where the Simpsonfamily made its debut in a series of shorts.
In 1989, the show was picked up as a half-hour animated sitcom done by Simon, Brooks, and Matt Groening. Although Simon only co-wrote nine episodes of the show during the early ‘90s, his resumé consists of classic, top-notch Simpsons episodes, such as “The Telltale Head.”
He was also described by ex-Simpsons writer Ken Levine as “the real creative force behind The Simpsons,” working in tandem with cartoonist Groening to mould the tone and overall sense of humour while the series was in its formative years.
Later in the ‘90s, Simon found himself working on other comedies, such as The Drew Carey Show.
After leaving the writing staff of The Simpsons, Simon went on to live the life of a modern day renaissance man. He played Texas Hold’em in the World Series of Poker regularly. He managed boxer Lamon Brewster, bringing him to the 2004 World Boxing Organization Heavyweight Championships. He was also a massive supporter of animal rights and organizations such as PETA.
In 2014, Simon donated most of his estate, about $100-million, to different charities for a wide variety of causes.