The Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon has lost his battle with colon cancer at age 59, his agent confirmed on Monday (March 9). The writer collaborated with Matt Groening and James L. Brooks in 1989 on the wildly popular cartoon, which has since gone on to become the longest-running sitcom on American television.
Fellow The Simpsons producer Al Jean also confirmed the news with a tweet, writing: ".@thesimpsons #everysimpsonsever Just heard terrible news of death @simonsam. A great man; I owe him everything."
Multi-talented Sam led the show’s writing staff and is credited with developing the show’s loveable and dysfunctional characters. He won seven Emmy Awards for his work as a writer, director and executive producer for the show, before leaving after four seasons in 1993.
After leaving The Simpsons, Sam retained an Executive Producer title and continued to receive between $20 million (£13.2m) to $30 million each year from a deal that gave him a part of the show’s future earnings.
The television writer was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2012 and declared that he wanted to donate all of his fortune to charity. He gave much of his money to social causes, especially those working on animal welfare issues.
In 2002, he founded the non-profit Sam Simon Foundation which rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to assist the disabled. Sam also supported charities including PETA, Save the Children and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which named one of its vessels after him.
Sam told Reuters that his philanthropic work was an “expensive hobby”.
“I have a desire to help animals. It’s my money and I get to do what I want with it. It’s an expensive hobby I picked up at the end of my life,” he said.
As well as working on The Simpsons, Sam also worked as a writer for a number of sitcoms including Taxi and Cheers.