Nightly News | July 27, 2013
>>> know his name, but there's a good chance you've been laughing at his characters for a long time. he is facing a difficult diagnosis now, and he has found a way to put his life and his considerable wealth and success in perspective and help others. nbc's mike taibi for us tonight.
>> reporter: in fictional springfield homer simpson 's fictional family struggles daily with a relentlessly frustrating and cynical world around them.
>> i'm in an abusive relationship with life.
>> reporter: in real life sam simon , co-developer of the longest running scripted show in television history, life was add gooz as it gets. he was lead writer for only four of the show's now 24-year run. he retired at age 35 with a back end deal that has earned him up to $30 million a year from syndication and other fees. now facing terminal cancer and given only months to live, the twice divorced and childless simon had chosen to leave his entire fortune to charities he has long supported.
>> he has not shied away from picking philanthropic cause that is reflect who he is as a person of ideas.
>> reporter: those causes include peta, which has named its headquarters after simon. several dog rescue organizations, and the anti-whaling group sea shepherd for whom he purchased a state-of-the-art ship. at a peta event he criticized the use of sea mammals as entertainment.
>> their shows in my professional opinion are crap.
>> reporter: others among the super rich have chose tony leave the bulk of their fortunes to charity. famous last names like turner, bloomberg, rockefeller, allen, lucas, gates, buffett, and zuckerberg. sam simon is not quite in their financial league, but he is leaving it all and it's plenty, a legacy like that of the simpsons to extend well into the future. mike taibi, nbc news, los angeles .