Comedy writer, director and producer Sam Simon passed away last night. He was 59 years old, and had been diagnosed with terminal cancer since late 2012.
Simon was quite accomplished as a writer/producer of TV’s “Taxi,” “Cheers” and “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” before teaming up with Matt Groening and James L. Brooks to develop The Simpsons in 1989.
Simon began his career at Filmation – writing Fat Albert and Heckle & Jeckle cartoons. He moved into live action selling scripts to Barney Miller and Taxi in 1981. In 1989 he joined the Simpsons development team after a stint on The Tracy Ullman Show. Simon co-wrote several Simpsons episodes during shows first seasons, serving as co-showrunner, character designer, creative consultant, creative supervisor, developer, and writer. He left the show day-to-day in 1993 – but remained involved an executive producer. He won nine Emmy Awards (seven for The Simpsons / two for Tracey Ullman) for his work.
Since his terminal diagnosis, Simon had been giving away most of his fortune to save animals from harmful and abusive situations worldwide.