Remembering Simpsons Showrunner, Philanthropist, Poker Player, Boxing Svengali, Friend of Animals and Overall Mensch Sam Simon

He made a lot and he gave away a lot and he had a good time doing both.

Sam Simon was the, for four seasons, the benevolent god of Springfield. The Simpsons show runner, who died today at the age of 59, was largely responsible for the anarchic show’s complicated structure, intricate characters, and open-minded sensibility. Uninterested in creating something sanctimonious or unoriginal, Simon, who famously fought with co-creator Matt Groening, left the show after only four seasons – four of the most influential, funniest seasons in television history.

Thanks to the agreement Mr. Simon signed when he departed, he retained his Executive Producer title and received a piece of the royalties as well as VHS and DVD sales. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Simon became an extremely wealthy man, eventually making giving money away into a more or less full-time profession. The coffers of various veterans groups, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are all considerably fuller for Simon’s intervention.

A former writer for George Carlin and Drew Carey, Simon was also a serious poker player and – for a while – the manager of the world heavyweight champion. He was as interesting – speaking openly about his cancer up until the end – as he was interested in others. And that showed in his writing.

Here is perhaps the best example of a Sam Simon making fun of Sam Simon:

“There are certain times you realize you’ve got too much money. One was when I started getting bills from the Koi hotel. When I was remodeling the Koi pond, the Koi had to go to the Koi hotel. They ended up staying there for 13 months and I never asked what the bill was.”