LOS ANGELES (JTA) – Sam Simon, who co-created “The Simpsons,” one of the most successful shows in television history, died on Sunday, March 8, of colorectal cancer. He was 59.
Simon only spent four years writing for “The Simpsons,” but many of the early writers credit him with shaping the show’s sensibility. The terms of his exit made him a wealthy man for the rest of his life, and he spent much of his later years focused on giving away his fortune.
A Beverly Hills native, Simon’s father, Arthur, owned what Simon called “a shmatte factory in downtown Los Angeles,” making cheap clothing for department stores, and he grew up in a prosperous neighborhood. Simon said that at the age of five, he walked in on his mother and Groucho Marx, who lived across the street, “in a compromising position.”
Simon wrote for several successful shows, including “Taxi” and “Cheers,” but he achieved his greatest fame for developing “The Simpsons” in 1989, along with James Brooks and Matt Groening, who created the original characters. Simon often said at the time that he only expected to last one season, and he often expressed awe at the show’s success, still on air more than 25 years later.
Simon left “The Simpsons” in 1993 with a percentage of profits that in recent years, he said, amounted to “tens of millions” of dollars per year.
He was an active philanthropist, donating to causes including wildlife conservation, shelters for stray animals and a program serving free vegan meals to the hungry. After he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, he focused his energies on giving away all of his money.
Simon also had a stint managing the heavyweight boxer Lamon Brewster, who won a heavyweight championship title in 2004.