Sam Simon, a beloved animal rights activist and co-creator of The Simpsons,died March 8 at age 59.
Simon was a nine-time Emmy winner who made tens of millions of dollars from his work on The Simpsons, as well as his other comedy work, including on The Drew Carey Show. He was a also a passionate animal rights activist, human rights activist and long-time vegan.
Simon's career began at the age of 23, when he was hired as a writer for the sitcom Taxi, co-created by James L. Brooks. Simon was promoted to showrunner for the show's last season. Shortly after that, he worked as a writer and producer on several comedy shows, inluding Cheers, Best of the West, Barney Miller, and It's Garry Shandling's Show. Simon then co-developed The Simpsons, which started as a series of cartoons on The Tracey Ullman Show, with Matt Groening. Though their relationship was initially a good one, it later became "contentious," according to Groening. Groening claims that Simon was convinced The Simpsons would ultimately be a failure, and that this outlook was an ongoing source of problems between the two. Simon left the show in 1993, but not before signing a contract that entitled him to a share of The Simpsons' profits every year. This contract would earn him over $10 million a year.
After Simon was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer and given only months to live, he became the subject of much media attention when he announced that he would donate nearly all his money to charity. Throughout his lifetime, Simon donated substantially to PETA, Save the Children, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. He also founded the Sam Simon Foundation, which helps adopt stray dogs, offers free spaying and neutering services, and donates vegan food to families in need.
Simon also famously saved a "gay" bull from slaughter in 2014. The bull, Benjy, showed no interest in female cows, and thus was of no use to his owner, who had purchased him for breeding purposes. His owner was about to send him to be slaughtered, when Simon stepped in and paid for Benjy to be transported to an animal sanctuary to live out the rest of his days.
Simon died at his Los Angeles home on Sunday, surrounded by his family and his dog. The remainder of his $100 million fortune will be donated to the charities he loved.