Sam Simon, co-creator of The Simpsons and nine-time Emmy award winner, passed away in his L.A. home on Sunday after battling colon cancer.
Starting out as a cartoonist for Stanford University’s school paper and then working as a professional sports cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner, Simon went on to work as a storyboard artist and eventually as a writer at Filmation Studios where he earned his first small screen credits.
In 1989 Simon developed The Simpsons with co-creators Matt Groening and James L. Brooks. Having co-written a number of episodes, Simon also served as the co-showrunner, character designer, creative consultant, developer and writer.
“I’m here to tell you, the real creative force behind The Simpsons was Sam Simon,” said Ken Levin, one of the show’s writers, “The tone, the storytelling, the level of humor – that was all developed on Sam’s watch.”
Before developing the lauded animated series, Simon worked as a writer and executive producer of The Tracy Ullman Show for which he won two Emmys. The other seven were all for The Simpsons. He also wrote episodes of Taxi, Cheers, and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.
Simon left the iconic, animated series in 1993, but retained the title of executive producer. He then went on to co-create ‘The George Carlin Show’ and worked as the consulting producer and director of ‘The Drew Carey Show.’
‘Sam Simon taught me everything about animation writing, and even more about life,’ said ‘The Simpsons’ executive producer, Al Jean.
A devoted philanthropist and animal lover, Simon created an eponymous foundation, dedicated to rescuing stray dogs and feeding the hungry. He was also a supporter of PETA, the international nonprofit Save the Children and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. In addition, Simon created a rescue program that saved dogs from kill shelters and trained them as compainions for the deaf.
Simon was raised by Jewish parents and many of the cherished Simpsons characters reflected his Jewish humor.
Krusty the Klown, whose full name is Herschel Schmoeckel Krustofsky, is Springfield’s resident clown and children’s television show mascot. The womanizing, drinking and gambling addicted Krusty is voiced by Dan Castellaneta.
Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky, voiced by Jackie Mason, is Springfield’s rabbi, and estranged father of Krusty the Klown.
Mr. Bergstrom, is the guitar strumming substitute teacher, and Lisa Simpson’s crush, voiced by Duston Hoffman. Mr. Bergstrom's character “needed a very Jewish face” said Mike Reiss (a writer/producer on the show), not realizing that "very Jewish face" would be his until the episode aired.
Artie Ziff, voiced by Jon Lovitz, was Marge Simpson’s less than cool prom date, who moves on to become a software mogul but still pines for Marge.
Jakob is the Israeli tour guide who takes the Simpsons’ around Israel on a family trip, voiced by Sacha Baron Cohen.
Old Jewish Man, voiced by ‘The Simpsons’ own Hank Azaria, was a former executive at Warner Bros. whose new career is to kibbutz with Abe Simpson at the retirement home.
Simon, who spent the majority of his life making millions of people laugh with his surreal and subversive sense of humor, left behind a legacy both as an artist and as a humanitarian.
We certainly could all use some of his comedic comfort right now.
Simon was 59.