R.I.P Sam Simon
March 9, 2015 2:13 PM   Subscribe

Sam Simon, writer, producer, philanthropist and co-creator of The Simpsons has passed away of colorectal cancer at the age of 59. Previously.
posted by brundlefly (47 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

A true mensch. Not only for The Simpsons, but for amazing contributions he made towards animal rights.
posted by Kitteh at 2:15 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by Jubal Kessler at 2:15 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by RakDaddy at 2:17 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by furtive at 2:18 PM on March 9, 2015

Dude contributed significantly to my childhood and development; the Simpsons shaped the ideas and sense of humor of a generation. Rest easy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:20 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

posted by Going To Maine at 2:23 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:29 PM on March 9, 2015

I was 14 when the Simpsons first aired as a standalone series. Simpsons quotes narrated my formative years and continue to narrate my adult life. This is a generational loss.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:32 PM on March 9, 2015

Losing Sam Simon is like losing cartoon Spock from the Simpsons, which was probably Sam Simon's idea to begin with.
posted by Fizz at 2:38 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

posted by pemberkins at 2:38 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by doctor_negative at 2:40 PM on March 9, 2015

Wow. 59 is so young. My dr. just recently recommended that I do the colonoscopy thing, but I've been putting it off. This prompted me to go make the appt.
posted by dejah420 at 2:43 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Those of you over 50, pay heed. Get screened. Do it for your whanau.

On preview, good on you, dejah420.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:48 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

What a loss. He really was a hero to animals.
posted by bluespark25 at 2:51 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Awwww fuck. This my formative mentors dying has got to fucking stop.


posted by chasles at 2:55 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by Faint of Butt at 2:57 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by tonycpsu at 3:05 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by stellathon at 3:07 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 3:07 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by ridogi at 3:12 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 3:12 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by joedan at 3:30 PM on March 9, 2015

Talk about making a smart move:

Simon actually left the show after just four seasons, but he signed a deal upon exiting that guaranteed him an executive producer credit on all subsequent episodes as well as a share of the show’s profits. That agreement proved to be a lucrative one for Simon, who was able to retire from show business before he turned 40 while reportedly raking in tens of millions of dollars a year from The Simpsons, which is currently in its 26th season on air.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 3:34 PM on March 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'll always remember him from the Treehouse of Horror credits as Sort of Scary Sam Simon. Never realized what an amazing guy he was.

posted by Metroid Baby at 3:37 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

posted by 4ster at 3:51 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by condour75 at 4:11 PM on March 9, 2015

Simon did a WTF interview with Marc Maron a while back. It's definitely worth a listen. (link skips to interview's intro, so expect a small amount of Maroning before it starts)
posted by Jugwine at 4:22 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by vibrotronica at 4:30 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by Splunge at 4:31 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by valkane at 4:50 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by dashDashDot at 5:30 PM on March 9, 2015

NYT reports:
Sam Simon, who was one of the major creative forces behind “The Simpsons” and who left the show after its fourth season in a lucrative arrangement that allowed him to spend much of the rest of his life giving his money away, died on Sunday at his home in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. He was 59. . . . Mr. Simon learned a few years ago that he had colon cancer.

The cartoonist Matt Groening, recruited by the producer James L. Brooks, invented the Simpson family for a series of short animated segments first seen on “The Tracey Ullman Show” in 1987. Mr. Groening named some of the characters after members of his own family, including Homer and Marge, the parents.

Although Mr. Groening is the person most closely associated with “The Simpsons,” Mr. Simon — who had published cartoons while he was a student at Stanford, worked on the cartoon show “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” and been a writer and producer for the sitcoms “Cheers” and “Taxi” — played a crucial role as “The Simpsons” evolved into a half-hour series. It became the longest-running sitcom in television history.

Mr. Simon helped populate Springfield, the fictional town where the Simpsons live, with a range of characters. He insisted that the show be created using some conventional sitcom techniques like having the writers work collectively. He had the voice actors read their parts as an ensemble, with the goal of giving the show more lifelike rhythm and timing. And he hired many of the show’s first writers, a number of whom gave him credit for informing its multilayered sensibility, one that skewers pieties with anarchic humor and sometimes vulgarity while celebrating family and community. . . .

Mr. Simon’s work on the show is also remembered for the way it ended. He and Mr. Groening clashed frequently — Mr. Groening was among several people, including Mr. Simon himself, who said that Mr. Simon could be difficult to work with — and Mr. Simon left in 1993, after four seasons.

It was not an amicable split, but it was extraordinarily profitable for Mr. Simon. He retained the title of executive producer and was given royalties from future home video sales. As “The Simpsons” moved into syndication and lucrative VHS and then DVD sales, it made Mr. Simon wealthy long after he was no longer directly involved in the show. He said in interviews that it provided him with “tens of millions” of dollars each year.
From an article in November 2014:
Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon has described his terminal colon cancer as the 'most amazing experience of my life', because he is surrounded by his loved ones and donating his estimated $100 million fortune to his passion - animal rights. Given three months to live in 2012, Simon immediately decided to team up with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) president Ingrid Newkirk, and dedicate his time to the rescue of maltreated animals and conservation.

Having defied that diagnosis’ original death sentence, Simon continues to push ahead and has also funded projects such as 'Feeding Families' to help with the underprivileged in inner cities. . . .

'[Newkirk] came up with almost a therapy for me, where we planned and are still planning a series of animal liberations and actions that I get to participate in and enjoy. It gives me something to look forward. I get to watch these animals that have been in concrete bunkers their whole lives take their first step on grass.'

Simon created the hit cartoon alongside Matt Groening in 1991. He technically retired from The Simpsons in 1993, but still receives tens of millions in royalties every season.

Asked why he decided to dedicate his fortune and final months to animal rights, Simon was unequivocal. 'The thing about animals that speaks to me so much is that my passion for the animals and against animal abuse is based on the knowledge that these creatures which think and feel can't speak for themselves,' said Simon to NBC. 'I feel it is my responsiblity to speak for those who can't speak for themselves.'
posted by John Cohen at 5:49 PM on March 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

His philanthropy included buying zoos and freeing the animals.

posted by dry white toast at 6:17 PM on March 9, 2015

What a total mensch.

posted by dbiedny at 6:29 PM on March 9, 2015

In the extremely unlikely event that I ever came into "fuck you" money* one of my dreams was to have The Dog Ranch where unhomed animals could be cared for and loved. Sam Simon actually did things like that, so respect.

He did seem to be a bit... tetchy? earlier in his life/career. Here's a Vanity Fair profile from last year, written by the criminally underemployed Merrill Markoe.

*The closest I've come financially is "pardon me" money.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 7:19 PM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

posted by Renoroc at 7:21 PM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I barely make "if it isn't too much trouble" money.

posted by Halloween Jack at 7:34 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Too young. :(•
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:52 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by elisse at 9:32 PM on March 9, 2015

Sounds like a great guy, I'm very sad he died of cancer and even sadder he had to work on 'Anger Management'.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:35 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by Ms. Moonlight at 2:53 AM on March 10, 2015

posted by crocomancer at 5:18 AM on March 10, 2015


Please imagine that dot as being yellow.
posted by Gelatin at 5:37 AM on March 10, 2015

Springfield mourns... as do I. Thanks for everything you did, Sam, especially for setting a great example.
posted by GrammarMoses at 7:12 AM on March 10, 2015

Although naturally obit writers point to Simon's impressive credentials on Taxi, Cheers, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, Barney Miller, et al. as context for his creative contributions to the Simpsons, it's worth remembering he got his start in animation—specifically the terrible, terrible cartoon dreck of Filmation Studios' New Adventures of Mighty Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle, and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.

The Simpsons, Simon explained, "was largely based on what I didn't like about the Saturday-morning cartoon shows I worked on. I wanted all the actors in a room together, not reading their lines separated from each other. The Simpsons would have been a great radio show. If you just listen to the sound track, it works."
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:20 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by Sys Rq at 12:36 AM on March 11, 2015

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