Samuel Michael "Sam" Simon (June 6, 1955 – March 8, 2015) was an American director, producer, writer, animal rights activist, boxing manager, tournament poker player, and philanthropist, most noted as co-creator of the television series The Simpsons.
While at Stanford University, Simon worked as a newspaper cartoonist and after graduating became a storyboard artist at Filmation Studios. Simon submitted a spec script for the sitcom Taxi, which was produced, and later became the series' showrunner. Over the next few years, Simon wrote and produced for Cheers, It's Garry Shandling's Show and other programs, as well as writing the 1991 film The Super.
In 1989, Simon developed the animated sitcom The Simpsons with Matt Groening and James L. Brooks. Simon assembled the show's first writing team, co-wrote eight episodes and has been credited with "developing [the show's] sensibility." Simon's relationship with Groening was strained and he left the show in 1993, negotiating a pay-off which saw him receive tens of millions of dollars from the show's revenue each year. The following year Simon co-created The George Carlin Show, before later working as a director on shows such as The Drew Carey Show. Simon won nine Primetime Emmy Awards for his television work.
Simon turned to fields outside television in his later years. Simon regularly appeared on Howard Stern's radio shows, managed boxer Lamon Brewster and helped guide Lamon to the World Boxing Organization Heavyweight Championship in 2004 and was a regular poker player and six-time in the money finisher at the World Series of Poker. Simon ran the Sam Simon Foundation, which rescues and trains stray dogs and funded the self-christened Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel the MY Sam Simon. Simon was engaged at the time of his death, having been previously twice married, including to the actress Jennifer Tilly. Following a profile of Simon on 60 Minutes in 2007, CBS writer Daniel Schorn wrote in an online article that Simon was "perhaps the Renaissance man of the baffling, uncertain age we live in."
Simon was diagnosed with terminal colorectal cancer in 2012 and given only three to six months to live. Simon died on March 8, 2015. He bequeathed his $100M estate to various charities which he actively supported during his lifetime.
Simon was married to actress Jennifer Tilly from 1984 to 1991 and remained friends with her. He married Playboy Playmate Jami Ferrell in 2000, and the marriage lasted three weeks. Simon was engaged to chef and caterer Jenna Stewart around 2011. He was dating Kate Porter, a make-up artist, from 2012 until his death. Simon had three dogs, supported the Democratic Party, and was vegan.
He lived in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, in the restored Bailey House, designed by Richard Neutra. After his home was destroyed by a fire in 2007, Simon redesigned it to be environmentally friendly; much of the interior is constructed from recycled materials while solar panels provide virtually its entire power needs. The building has a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certificate. He had an extensive art collection; he owned paintings by Thomas Hart Benton, John Singer Sargent and one of the original casts of Auguste Rodin's The Thinker. He also had a sculpture by Robert Graham and works by Alberto Vargas, Gil Elvgren, Ed Ruscha and Richard Estes.
Illness and death
In late 2012, Simon was diagnosed with terminal colorectal cancer which later metastasized to his other organs, including his liver and kidneys. He had been feeling ill for some time and had earlier been misdiagnosed. He was given between three and six months to live; chemotherapy treatment reduced the size of his tumors over the following six months. He arranged for his fortune to be left to various charitable causes, stating "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." Simon died in his Los Angeles home from complications from the disease on March 8, 2015, aged 59. His remains were interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.