I think it’s safe to say that there is absolutely no one else like Sam Simon. This was a man who left the world much, much better than he found it. Just being one of the creators of The Simpsons would be a meaningful enough legacy to earn him a spot on the wall of World-Changing Humans. But beyond creating one of the greatest and most impactful shows of all time, Simon had his hand in some other television giants: Taxi, Cheers, The Tracey Ulman Show, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show (to name a few). It would be easy to argue that Simon, through his work, played a not insubstantial role in making a lot of us the way that we are.
And yet Sam Simon went beyond the title of TV legend, rededicating his life to helping others— specifically helping animals— in his final years. In 2002, he founded the Sam Simon Foundation, which rescues and trains dogs. When he was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer in 2012 (and predicted to have only 3 to 6 months to live), he vowed to give away his entire fortune to charity. He explained in a recent Vanity Fair profile,
I’m an atheist, but there’s a thing called tithing that a lot of religions do. Ten percent was the minimum you were supposed to give to charity every year. And I always outdid that.Over the last year, Simon has made headlines by rescuing bears, saving gay bulls from slaughter, and countless other actions, large and small, all from the desire to improve the world before he left it.
Sam Simon passed away yesterday in his home in Los Angeles. He will be deeply missed, and we are all better off for his existence.
Your power did not lie in your money, fame or genius, @simonsam, but in the way you gave all you had to the powerless. Missing you.— Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) March 9, 2015
Rest in power, @simonsam, one of the coolest people in the business of comedy and the business of life.— Jill Soloway (@jillsoloway) March 9, 2015