Sam Simon, born June 6, 1955, is known to the masses as the co-creator of The Simpsons, but to others he was known as an animal advocate, philanthropist, poker aficionado, and so much more. On Sunday, March 8, the world lost Simon, who passed away after a long battle with cancer. Simon, 59, was surrounded by family and friends in Los Angeles.
Simon was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2012, and in early 2013 he revealed to Jon Leiberman on Leiberman: Live at 5 on Howard 101 that it had spread to other organs and become terminal. Simon said doctors estimated that he only had months to live, but he fought the battle for an entire year.
Poker fans may remember seeing Simon on High Stakes Poker back in 2009. Aside from that, Simon, who first cashed in a poker tournament back in 1995, had amassed $358,655 in tournament earnings, which included a win in the 2010 Winnin' O' The Green $225 No-Limit Hold'em for $57,308, and $39,445 for finishing 329th in the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event.
In The Telegraph's obituary of Simon, they touch upon his fascination with cards:
"From 1999 to 2003 he was a writer, consulting producer and director on The Drew Carey Show, striking up a friendship with the show’s eponymous host. Both men were avid players of poker and blackjack, and both were prepared to stake thousands of dollars on a hand.
"One of Simon's favorite haunts was the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas, where he and Carey once played $1,000-a-hand blackjack in exchange for a complimentary meal. By the end of that particular game, Simon later joked, his toasted cheese sandwich had cost him $75,000. In 2009 he hosted Sam's Game, a celebrity poker match on American cable television."
In 1984, Simon married actress Jennifer Tilly, who has become an accomplished poker player in her own right. While the two separated in 1991, they remained close. Upon learning of Simon's passing, Tilly sent a simple, heartfelt tweet:
Simon, who has no children, previously pledged the majority of his fortune — which is estimated to between $100-$400 million dollars — to philanthropic causes.
"The truth is, I have more money than I'm interested in spending. Everyone in my family is take care of, and I enjoy this," the terminally ill Simon told The Hollywood Reporter of his plan to donate his fortune. In 2002, Simon established the Sam Simon Foundation, which rescues dogs to train as service animals, and in 2011 started a vegan food bank. Those are just two small examples of his numerous charitable endeavors.
There's no doubt the poker world, and the world as a whole, will miss one of the greatest comedy minds of all time. Rest in peace, Sam Simon.