'The Simpsons' Co-Producer and Philanthropist Sam Simon Passes Away

Sam Simon, creative mind behind 'The Simpsons,' leaves significant legacy after battle with colon cancer

Former "The Simpsons" producer Sam Simon died at his Los Angeles home at age 59 after battling colon cancer since his 2012 diagnosis.

Simon left "The Simpsons" after four seasons, but not before leaving his mark on what would become the longest-running sitcom in history. Though Simon was eventually overshadowed by cartoonist Matt Groening and producer James L. Brooks, those working on the inside credit Simon as one of the principal creative contributors.

As early writer Jon Vitti put it to the The New York Times in 2001, "If you leave out Sam Simon, you're telling the managed version. He was the guy we wrote for."

To hear some explain it, Simon was much more than a writer.

"Sam Simon taught me everything about animation writing, and even more about life," "The Simpsons" Executive Producer Al Jean told Variety.

Despite his broader impact, Simon was quite a writer. He earned seven Emmy Awards for "The Simpsons" and two more for "The Tracey Ullman Show." The multi-talented Los Angeles native also wrote episodes of "Taxi," "Cheers" and "It's Garry Shandling's Show."

Though Simon wasn't initially sold on the potential of "The Simpsons," he wound up playing an instrumental role in a show that's been nothing short of formative in the industry.

"There would be a few minutes where you'd have a parody of a Kubrick movie, and then you'd have Homer on the kitchen counter eating cake like a dog," he confessed to Stanford Magazine in 2009. "I thought some people would like some aspects of it, but I wasn't sure how many would come along for the full ride. It turned out I was incredibly wrong. Homer is now the prototype for every male lead on a comedy show."

TV exploits were only part of Simon's legacy. He used his wealth to sponsor a number of causes, including animal rights organizations and a foundation that trained dogs to aid disabled people. The Sam Simon Foundation also began providing vegan meals to low-income families in 2011.

His battle with colon cancer didn't stop him from remaining involved in a number of professional and altruistic endeavors.

Colon cancer occurs when a polyp becomes cancerous and begins growing on the walls of the colon. It's the third most commonly diagnosed type of cancer and second most common cause of cancer death in the United States.