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Longtime Simpsons Executive Producer Sam Simon Dies at 59

Look back on his impressive life and philanthropy efforts

Kate Stanhope

Sam Simon, who helped develop The Simpsons, has died, his foundation announced on Monday. He was 59.

"It is with much sadness that we must let you know that Sam Simon has passed over. We all miss him, and in his honor, we will continue bringing his vision to light through our work at The Sam Simon Foundation," his foundation wrote. "We take comfort in knowing how many greetings he is receiving across that Rainbow Bridge. We love you Sam!"

Simon died Sunday at his home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., from complications from terminal colon cancer, according toThe Hollywood Reporter. He was diagnosed in February 2013.

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A Los Angeles native, Simon got his start as a cartoonist for his college newspaper at Stanford. He segued into writing for animated shows like Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids before getting hired to write for Taxi. He served as the showrunner for the series' fifth and final season and moved on as a writer-producer for the first three seasons of Cheers. His other TV credits included Barney Miller, It's Garry Shandling's Show and The Tracey Ullman Show.

It was on The Tracey Ullman Show that Simon teamed with executive producer James L. Brooks and Matt Groening to turn The Simpsons, which then appeared as shorts on Ullman's show, into a full-fledged series. The trio served as executive producers and showrunners for the first two seasons. In addition to assembling the show's writer's room, he co-wrote episodes like "The Telltale Head," "The Crepes of Wrath," "The Way We Was," as well as penning "The Raven" for Season 2's "Treehouse of Horror" episode.

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However, Simon left the show in 1993 after his relationship with Groening became estranged. When he left, he negotiated a deal that ensured him a share of the profits every year from the show and an executive producer credit after his departure.

He co-created The George Carlin Show in 1994. The show was canceled a year later, at which point he moved into TV directing for shows like Friends, The Drew Carey Show and, most recently, Anger Management. He won nine Emmy awards, a Peabody award and the Writers Guild of America Award Animation Writers Caucus lifetime achievement award in 2013.

Simon used his Simpsons fortune to start the Sam Simon Foundation in 2002, which focuses on rescuing and retraining stray dogs who would otherwise be euthanized to become service dogs for individuals with disabilities and to help soldiers dealing with PTSD. In recent years, he managed heavyweight boxer Lamon Brewster for eight years, and also competed in the World Series of Poker in the years 2007-2011.