His passing was announced on Facebook this morning via the Sam Simon Foundation, which pairs veterans and people with hearing impairments with service dogs. Simon was a vocal animal rights activist and philanthropist, and that passion, as well as his battle with cancer, is the subject of a yet-to-be-released documentary.
Simon created The Simpsons in 1989 with Matt Groening and James L. Brooks, and helped it shape the show’s characters and look. He exited the show in 1993, but his influence on comedy and TV in the last decade-plus is undeniable. Merrill Markoe’s fantastic 2014 Vanity Fair piece on Simon is required reading: He describes coming up with the look of iconic characters like Mr. Burns and Chief Wiggum. He also spoke about his cancer battle on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast in 2013.
Groening and Brooks both offered statements; Groening remarked Simon is “gone from our industry too soon.”
On Twitter, friends and colleagues expressed their grief and cataloged their remembrances.
Heartbreaking news. Sam Simon,co creator of the Simpsons has died. a comedy genius & a friend to all and all animals. condolences to family— Fred Willard (@Fred_Willard) March 9, 2015
Drew Carey calls Sam Simon on Who Wants to be a Millionaire… https://t.co/p2403sjlwl— PJ A (@pepperjackb) March 9, 2015
RIP Sam Simon. Heroic humanitarian & genius co-creator of The Simpsons. D'oh, indeed.— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) March 9, 2015
RIP Sam Simon. Your humor defined my childhood, and this image will forever matter in the depths of pop culture. pic.twitter.com/jPMuQq0j38— Andy Herren (@AndyHerren) March 9, 2015
Sam Simon's contribution to the spirit of sharp, well-observed comedy is incalculable. Awful to lose such a gifted & genuinely good guy.— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) March 9, 2015
No doubt we’ll see Simon somewhere in next week’s Simpsons. H/T The Wrap | Illustration by Jason Reed