Sam Simon, the co-creator of the long-running animated series "The Simpsons," has died following a battle with colorectal cancer, according to a statement released by his foundation Monday. He was 59.
“It is with much sadness that we must let you know that Sam Simon has passed over,” said a post on the Sam Simon Foundation Facebook page. “We take comfort in knowing how many greetings he is receiving across that Rainbow Bridge. We love you Sam!”
Simon was a producer of the “The Simpsons,” “Cheers,” the “Drew Carey Show” and other series. He won nine Emmy awards for his work as a writer, director and executive producer on “The Simpsons,” according to Reuters.
After his cancer diagnosis, he began giving away his fortune to charities close to his heart, including PETA, which named their Norfolk, Virginia facility after him and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which named a vessel after him, TODAY reported in 2013. Simon also had bought at least two animals — a racehorse that was at risk of injury due to being over-raced and a bull that was being readied for slaughter. The combined cost of the animals was $67,800.
“I think Sam died with a smile on his face, knowing that elephants were on their way out of the circus, something that … he dreamt of and talked about all the time,” said PETA’s president, Ingrid Newkirk, in a statement. “I hope everyone who knew Sam or hears about his great kindness to veterans, to animals, and to all will do something kind themselves in his honor.”
Simon had already founded the Sam Simon Foundation before he started giving away his money which aims to save the lives of dogs “to enrich the lives of people,” according to the foundation’s website.
Simon, a longtime vegan, also funded Mercy for Animals, which honored him with The Compassionate Leadership Award and named an award after him in 2013, according to the organization. He co-hosted a radio show with Mercy for Animals’ director of communications, Ari Solomon, who said in a statement: “His legacy will live on through all of us working towards a kinder, more compassionate world. Words can't express how much we'll miss him."
Mercy for Animals’ president Nathan Runkle also said Simon’s giving nature would continue to inspire others. “Sam led by example and showed us all what bravery, kindness, and determination truly were,” he said.
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— Elisha Fieldstadt and Andrew Blankstein