I never met Sam Simon. I wish I had but I never did. I know and worked with a lot of his friends and associates but I never met him eventhough I was always intriqued.
He died today. And, man, I'm sad. Everyone has known he has been dying for a long time but god I'm sad.
And so are you. And I will tell you why.
The easy stuff first. Because you have watched and laughed at the Simpsons. Yes, he is one of the original creators and defining voice behind the show.
And because you have laughed at his writing on Taxi which he ran when he was 25. And you laughed at It's The Garry Shandling Show, another one of his credits and whole shit load of other tv stuff he did made you laugh.
But here's why you are really bummed.
For the last number of years Sam has dedicated a whole lot of his precious life to saving animals and humans.
He has used his money in a big fat way to help the causes that you and I wish we could do but he did it.
In 2002 he started the multi-platform Sam Simon Foundation, one arm of which rescues animals from Los Angeles kill shelters and trains some of them to be service dogs for the hearing-impaired and veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Then there’s the mobile veterinary clinic, also in Los Angeles, which offers free surgery and free spay and neuter services. But it’s not just animals; another arm of the foundation funds the Feeding Families program, a vegan food bank that offers free meals to some 400 Los Angeles families a week. “We’re on track to distribute over a half-million pounds of food to more than 65,000 people this year,” its spokesman tells me. Sam is also the largest individual donor to Save the Children, which just announced a new global philanthropic community called the Simon Society.
And what about those effed up whaling ships in Japan?
"By 2012, he had given the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international nonprofit organization involved in marine-wildlife conservation and anti-whaling efforts, a gift of a 184-foot former Japanese whaling vessel, worth millions of dollars. Renamed the , the ship is now handsomely detailed with a black-and-white dazzle-camouflage pattern to make it look like an iceberg from a distance. " "The Sea Shepherd is the kind of hands-on results-oriented charitable organization that has been attracting Sam since he became aware that his personal clock was ticking. “With the Sea Shepherd, you don’t go, ‘What have they done?’ “ he tells me. “They made them stop whaling! They rammed a ship! They shut ‘em down! "
And then there is Sunder the most abused elephant on the planet. And that is not an overstatement. Says Sam in early 2014,
Do you know who Sunder the elephant is? He is probably the most abused elephant in the world.” Sunder, who has been beaten and trapped by spiked chains inside a dark pot shed in India for seven years, remains stuck between brutality and bureaucratic red tape. “There was a chance I was going to get him today. I had these trucks waiting at the rescue.” No less a figure than Paul McCartney has tried and failed to win Sunder his freedom.
But by June 2014...around Sam's birthday...
The day before his birthday, Sam gets an early present: Sunder the elephant has been freed. There are pictures of Sunder departing in a truck. There are more pictures of him at a sanctuary, near a pond full of other bathing, rescued elephants.
Also at his birthday a movie made by his friends about his life was shown...
A film for the birthday boy filled with video highlights from all the rescue work Sam has done this past year. There he is in Canada with Pamela Anderson, offering the guys who club baby seals a million dollars if they will just stop. There he is at Talladega raceway, in Alabama, with a car he sponsored in order to publicize the documentary , which detailed the treatment of orcas at SeaWorld. There he is in Taiji, Japan, helping shed more light on the killing of dolphins that was first exposed in the movie The Cove. And there he is opening the cage for that grizzly at the Wild Animal Sanctuary, unprotected and an inch away from an unrestrained 500-pound bear.
Obviously, he set it up so that his foundation will continue. But god, it is really a bummer he has left earth.
Please read this Vanity Fair article from last fall to get a feel for Sam Simon.
btw...A Gemini with Moon in Sag. But I think we could have all guessed that.