Diagnosed with terminal colon cancer and given only three to six months alive, The Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon has vowed to give nearly all of his vast fortune to charity. Simon has been a behind-the-scenes staple of television for years, since he became Taxi‘s showrunner at 24. Since leaving The Simpsons in 1993, Simon has worked on The Drew Carey Show and Anger Management. He also still holds an executive producer credit on The Simpsons which, he says, earns him “tens of millions” annually in royalties.
Simon has been heavily involved in charity for years. He founded the Sam Simon Foundation that feeds starving humans and dogs, it’s worth nearly $23 million as of 2011. He also donates generously to PETA, Save the Children and the Sea Shepard Conservation Society. Many of the charities he works with have recently honored him — PETA named its Norfolk, Va. headquarters the Sim Simon Center and the Sea Shepard Conservation Society named a ship it uses to hinder whaling the M/Y Simon — though Simon quips, “the sort of lifetime achievement stuff that I’m getting now is kind of like Tom Sawyer’s funeral because they all know I’m sick.”
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Simon about his health and his decision to give away his vast wealth. “The truth is, I have more money than I’m interested in spending,” he told the magazine. “Everyone in my family is taken care of. And I enjoy this.”
When asked if he gets “frustrated with bad things happening to good people,” like his cancer diagnosis, Simon had this to say:
No. I don’t think that’s what karma is. It never crossed my mind. But I don’t think the spirit of Hollywood is such a spirit of generosity. I think people really begrudge giving. In New York, it’s like that. A lot of charities spend a million dollars on a fundraiser to make $15,000. It’s a social swirl. They do some great stuff and then — it’s called mission drift. It becomes more about the parties. You know, I’m not married, and I don’t have kids. I had an emergency operation when I was septic, and I really did come very close to dying. My colon cancer perforated my colon. When I woke up in the hospital, even though I did have a will, it did become that much more important to me to set this stuff up for the future. And the Rockefeller Foundation has consultants who have been amazing. We found fantastic trustees. It’s something that will be living after I’m gone.
Simon has no children. While he admits he doesn’t know the full extent of the fortune he’s accumulated, the site Celebrity Net Worth estimates he’s worth around $100 million.