A few days ago, one of the Men that helped to bring us the laughter and giggles of the Lil Yellow Family we have come to love and adore passed away.
Sam Simon~ June 6th, 1955 – March 8th, 2015
I didn’t want a story about him to be a simple sentence. As an amazing Writer such as Sam was, he deserved a bit more than a few words in my mind. So I wanted to give him the attention I felt he deserved and speak a lil more on his life and his great work. I know that my words are still simple and may not do his life story justice. I just wanted to focus on some of his work that had impacted my life.
Sam Simon was an ambitious young guy. In his own words, “I’m just a kid from Beverly Hills that got lucky.”
Sam seemed to have an eye and passion to take something small and simple and turn it into something unforgettable. Something you just can’t look away from. He was a Director, Producer, Writer, Poker Player, PETA Advocate, Boxing Manager, and of course… Co-Creator of the Simpsons.
To create and make just seemed to be in his blood. While he was at Stanford University, he was a Cartoonist for the Newspaper. After he graduated, he went on to Filmation Studios to be a Storyboard Artist. It is at this time that the Writer in him put together a rough script for the show Taxi. It was not only accepted, but produced and in turn pulled him in to be a part of the TV Series. (I still giggle at the reruns when I can catch them.) A few years later, he wrote and produced for another great show I adore… Cheers. Once again, a memorable cast of Characters that we brought into our homes and made a part of our family. Many of those voices have also joined the Simpsons line up. He seemed to have a knack for being drawn into and making shows like that.
It was in 1988 while he was working with James L. Brooks, a fellow Producer from Cheers, on the Tracey Ullman Show that they saw potential in the lil short clips that Matt Groening had conceived. Working with Matt, the 3 set out to turn the lil shorts into their own Series. In 1989 the Simpsons first aired on the FOX Network and history was being made.
It is said that Sam helped to create and develop the show from what is was into what it is now. He added a more realistic roundness to the Characters. Giving them more human appeal to audience. He was said to help set the tone and humor on each Episode he worked on. Pushing the writers to let go and make each one the best they possibly can. “What are they thinking?” was his motto for each one of the Characters. He wanted more thought put into them and their lives. He really had a hand in the development of the world of the Simpsons. He had a big part in Characters such as Mr. Burns, Dr. Hibbert, Cheif Wiggum, Eddie, and Lou to name a few. One of the Characters he really pushed for was Waylon Smithers. He wanted him to be gay, but not in a overly attention grabbing way. More just subtle. That became a running gag with the writers on Smithers sexuality or lack there of.
He worked also to push an idea that other shows did not use, having EVERYONE in the room to go through the scripts. Actors and all. This way the ideas and storyline could be played out live right there for all to see and work on. Together. He felt this helped to make each one of the Episodes just that much better.
Of course over time, the 3 Men started to have conflict of ideas and feelings got intense. Sam decided to step away from the Simpsons in 1993. (Though he negotiated to always be a part of the Simpsons as Co-Creator.) He just was not enjoying it as he once was. His Career did not stop there. He still continued to write and produce for shows like the George Carlin Show and Drew Carey Show to name a few. He even met and started to manage Lamon Brewster, a heavyweight boxer, in 1997 and continued to do so for 8 years. He also enjoyed playing High Stakes Poker. So much to the point it drew attention and his Poker matches with his friends became quite entertaining. He also dabbled in Radio. Sam Simon Show! Friday, 6 PM ET, http://radioio.com Channel Bubba1! He was a jack of all trades for sure.
One passion in his life he really started focusing on, that was his love for and treatment of animals. He wanted to do even more and get involved further and the money he was making would help, so in 2002 he self-funded the Sam Simon Foundation. A Foundation that is dedicated to rescuing and retraining stray and forgotten dogs who would otherwise be put in the pound and shortly after be euthanized. The huge shelter in Malibu is truly a paradise for these forgotten animals. It also assists the community by offering those that may not be able to afford it, spay or neutering for their animals. Necessary operations for sick dogs. He even helped trained dogs to support our Troops returning with PTSD be able to deal with it a lil better.
With all his success and all his money, he just never stopped giving back. He just kept giving away all he had to help others. In 2011, he established a Feeding Families Program with his Foundation. A Vegan Food Bank that provides both families and animals with much needed nutrition. His donations knew no bounds and he gave all he could and did it gladly. He took pleasure and pride in knowing just how much help he was giving to others.
Sadly in 2012, after several bouts of unexplained sickness and misdiagnosis, Sam was diagnosed with terminal colorectal cancer. He was told that he only had a short time to live. Six months at most. At this time he began to make arrangments to ensure his family and all his Charities would be well taken care of long after he was gone.
I had been following Sam on Twitter for the better part of the last few years. Communicating with him off and on. At times it was most difficult to watch as his journey and struggles touched ever so close to home. Seeing the same thing happen to my Friends and Close Family as a terrible Cancer overtook their beautiful lives. Many I was next to their side as they took their last breaths. It is not an easy thing to watch happen, but I took pride in knowing that each and everyone of them lived every second they had left to the fullest they could. It almost brought happiness through all those tears to know that their suffering was gone and they were finally able to rest and be at peace. I saw this in Sam too. His Twitter posts and constant pictures showed his ups and downs and how he fought to the bitter end to make sure his passion was heard and understood. He wanted people to be there with him while he went through it all. He wanted to be remembered for the good he had done in the world, and I think he most definitely will be.
~May you be at peace at last Sam~
If you want to see more on where he really dedicated and spent the better part of the last years of his life… his passion, love, and where every bit of energy he had went… take a look at his foundation page.
Now I turn it over to you. Feel free to share your thoughts on Sam and his legacy below.
UPDATE: Saw this on The Simpsons Twitter…so had to share. I adore it. 😉