Sam Simon, a co-creator of The Simpsons and a veteran of the television industry for over four decades, passed away at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday following a long battle with colorectal cancer. He was 59.
The writer, cartoonist, producer, showrunner, poker player and philanthropist had been diagnosed with terminal cancer since late 2012.
Simon won seven Emmy awards for his work as a writer, director and executive producer for the longest-running sitcom on American television.
The Simpsons, which chronicles the life of a clumsy father and his dysfunctional family, first aired in 1989.
Simon led the show’s writing staff and is credited with developing the characters that feature in the show.
He left the show after four seasons, but continued to receive between $20 million (£13.2 m) to $30 million each year after striking a deal that gave him a part of the show’s future earnings.
After his diagnosis, he said he wanted to donate all of his fortune to charity.
Simon was diagnosed with terminal colorectal cancer in 2012 and told comedian Marc Maron that his prognosis was originally three to six months. Given such a small time to live, Simon decided to donate most of his money to charity.
By 2012, he had given millions to the Sea Shepherd Society, a marine life conservation organization.
However, Simon had been a philanthropist for years: in 2002, he began working with PETA and founded Miami’s Sam Simon Foundation, which provides food to both humans and animals in need. That foundation included a program that trained rescue dogs to respond to the needs of deaf people.
Simpsons show-runner Al Jean confirmed Simon’s death in a tweet today:
“@thesimpsons #everysimpsonsever Just heard terrible news of death of @simonsam. A great man; I owe him everything.”