Having been diagnosed with terminal colon cancer in November 2012, a co-creator of the legendary cartoon “The Simpsons” is making sure that the fortune he accumulated from the show goes to charities close to his heart.
Sam Simon, who has been married twice and divorced actress Jennifer Tilly in 1991, has no children. He was told at the time of his Stage-4 diagnosis that he had three to six months to live.
However, after surviving eight months with the death sentence, he publically announced his situation in July of last year and mentioned that he would be giving away his money, estimated at $100 million. That led to an inevitable array of requests from people requesting that he send them some of the money for their own needs.
Ignoring the onslaught of queries, Simon soon decided to focus on charities he had previously supported: projects to feed homeless people, animal rescue projects to save them from being killed in shelters, and the Save the Children foundation.
Simon’s career first took off as a key part of such classic situation comedies like “Taxi” and “Cheers,” before eventually coming together with Matt Groening and James Brooks to create “The Simpsons.” The show officially began on Fox in December 1989, with Simon starting as creative supervisor. Besides hiring the writing staff (one of them being talk show host Conan O’Brien), Simon created a number of the show’s characters.
After the show’s fourth season, Simon left the show due to creative differences with co-founder Groening. However, he negotiated a lucrative deal that continues to pay him royalties for the show that will be celebrating a quarter-century on the air next month. That deal allows him to collect tens of millions of dollars each year.
His philanthropy has helped fund vegan meals for 400 families a day at a Los Angeles food bank, while his previous work had included the establishment of the Sam Simon Foundation that helped dogs that were saved assist both people with hearing problems and disabled veterans.
Meanwhile, his work with Save the Children has led him to meet young earthquake victims from Haiti and former child soldiers in Nepal. In gratitude for his past generosity, the organization named a global philanthropic community after him in June.
Much of Simon’s support for animals stems from his close work with the founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and their founder, Ingrid Newkirk. Simon’s philosophy in this area is that his philanthropy can “speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.” In March 2013, PETA recognized Simon’s longtime assistance by naming their headquarters in Norfolk, Va. The Sam Simon Center.
In an NBC interview with Maria Shriver, Simon says that giving away his fortune has been therapeutic. Saying that Newkirk has helped him plan a series of “animal liberations and actions” through the organization that allows him to participate and enjoy while also giving him something to look forward to at the same time.
Simon is content with his life, saying in that same NBC interview, “Somehow, I ended up surrounded by people that love me and take care of me and will do anything for me. It’s a good feeling. That’s called happiness.”