Sam Simon is more than just a name that appears during The Simpsons‘ opening credits — he’s a comedy icon, a writer for some of the greatest sitcoms of all-time, including Cheers, Barney Miller, Taxi, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. But like most things in life, it all comes back to The Simpsons. That’s where he did everything from help design the characters to hire fellow geniuses John Swartzwelder and George Meyer to suggest that Smithers be gay to pitch and/or write “The Crepes of Wrath,” “The Way We Was,” and “Homer at the Bat,” among many other classic episodes. (The great Brad Bird called him the “the unsung hero” of the show.)
Simon had a falling out with Matt Groening after season four, though, due in part to the show’s rising popularity but also the fact that he called Groening out on not having as much to do with the series as the public thought he did. Before venturing into the world of poker, however, he wisely brokered a deal in which he receives a certain share of the show’s profits. Meaning, for basically doing nothing, he gets $10 million…every year, money that, according to the Hollywood Reporter, will be donated to charity once Simon passes. Sadly, that won’t be long from now: in February, he was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer and only has a few months, if that many, to live.
Five months ago, the nine-time Emmy winner — whose post-Simpsons projects have included directing (The Drew Carey Show), hosting (the short-lived poker reality series Sam’s Game for Playboy TV) and consulting (currently on FX’s Anger Management) — was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. He confirmed during a May 16 WTF With Marc Maron podcast that he was given the prognosis of three to six months to live and that he will donate nearly all of his sizable Simpsons royalties — which he has said earn him “tens of millions” annually — to charity. (Simon’s marriages to Jennifer Tilly and Playboy Playmate Jami Ferrell were childless, or child-free, depending on your point of view.) “I think it’s really nice for him that he’s doing it now and he gets to see the results of his philanthropy,” says Tilly. “He really does have a passion to survive, and the longer he’s on the earth, the more good work he can do.”
His contributions include founding the Sam Simon Foundation (worth nearly $23 million as of 2011) that rescues the hungry (humans, but with vegan foods only) and strays (dogs, of any variety). His other pet charities include PETA, which thanked him for his support by naming its Norfolk, Va., headquarters the Sam Simon Center; international nonprofit Save the Children; and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a global marine conservation organization. His contributions led it to name one of the four ships in its fleet of vessels, used to hinder whaling and illegal fishing, the M/Y Simon in 2012. He also turned a Malibu spread into a canine haven that rescues dogs from kill shelters and trains them as companions for the deaf. (Via)
When asked by the Reporter if having cancer has changed his view on humor, Simon said, “No. There’s some stuff on TV that I’m like, “With the time I have left, do I really want to watch Wipeout?” But I have a problem when it comes to watching Big Brother. I got my shows. TV for a cancer patient.”
I’d expect nothing less from the guy who helped create McBain.
(via Getty Image) (Via Hollywood Reporter)
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