Hollywood, PETA Mourn 'Simpsons' Co-Creator Sam Simon

Sam Simon - H 2015
AP Images

Sam Simon - H 2015

Ricky Gervais, Hank Azaria, Larry King and 'Simpsons' co-creators Matt Groening and James L. Brooks were among those remembering the Emmy Award-winning comedy writer and producer who died after a battle with colon cancer.

The news that Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon has died was greeted with sadness from those who worked on or were fans of the long-running Fox series.

Simpsons showrunner Al Jean said of Simon, "He was a genius and a great humanitarian in ways public and private. I personally owe him more than can be repaid, but I will do my best to help every animal I can in his memory."

Matt Groening and James L. Brooks, with whom Simon developed the show, both released statements remembering their colleague. "We will miss Sam’s phenomenal talents, sharp intelligence, and sly sense of humor," Groening said. "He is gone from our industry too soon.” Brooks added: "He was truly one of the great ones. He found so much outside the work to give him pleasure and left so much behind for others.”

Fox Television Group also released a statement, saying of Simon, "Sam helped establish the tone and world of the Simpsons in the early years of this landmark series, and his contributions live on. His philanthropy was well-known and a source of inspiration for many. We are deeply saddened by his passing.”

Meanwhile Hank Azaria, who has voiced several Simpsons characters including Apu and Moe, took to Twitter to remember Simon. And Larry King posted an image of himself as a Simpsons character and wrote "Your impact on television and the world will not be forgotten."

Since he was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer, Simon has been giving away his vast fortune, largely donating it to cahrities that defend animal rights and feeding the hungry, as The Hollywood Reporter previously detailed. The writer-producer and philanthropist was also remembered by animal-rights organizations.

Simon was a PETA board member who has contributed so much money to the group that it named its Virginia headquarters after him. PETA also posted the below video tribute to Simon.

PETA president Ingrid Newkirk noted that Monday was "a very sad day" for people at the Sam Simon Center. She said of the philanthropist, "I think Sam died with a smile on his face, knowing that elephants were on their way out of the circus, something that, together with the closure of SeaWorld, he dreamt of and talked about all the time. He said the last two years of his life, since his diagnosis, were his happiest, as he used them to help animals who had nothing, and it gave him great joy to see chimpanzees, elephants, and even a 'gay' bull find freedom from harm because he had worked with PETA to get them all out of hideous circumstances. "

Meanwhile, Mercy for Animals' director of communications Ari Solomon, who was a close friend of Simon's and hosted a weekly radio show with the late writer-producer and philanthropist, said: "To know Sam was to love Sam. He was a true hero and inspiration and his legacy will live on through all of us working towards a kinder, more compassionate world. Words can't express how much we'll miss him."

Mercy for Animals president Nathan Runkle added, "Sam was a heroic humanitarian whose selfless generosity and boundless courage inspired countless people around the world to be kinder to animals-and each other. His heart was as great as his sense of humor. He never missed an opportunity to speak up for those in need. Sam led by example and showed us all what bravery, kindness, and determination truly were. A more compassionate future draws ever more near because of his legacy of generosity."

Simon, as part of his support for animal rights, funded Mercy for Animals' undercover investigations into factory farms and slaughterhouses. The organization created the Sam Simon Award, which he presented to Pamela Anderson last year. 

Save the Children  CEO Carolyn Miles stated, "As we mourn the loss of Sam, we also celebrate his life and legacy of giving to those who need it most. He gave a voice to children and endangered animals who can’t speak up for themselves. And he gave away his fortune so that they may have a chance at a better life."

Simon was a loyal supporter of Save the Children. Miles created the Simon Society in his honor to help improve the lives of children around the world.

Read on to see what Hollywood is saying about Simon on social media.

What a mensch. @nytimes: Sam Simon, Who Helped Shape ‘The Simpsons,’ Dies at 59 http://t.co/mul8Vd5HUg

— andy lassner (@andylassner) March 9, 2015