Television writer/producer Sam Simon, a co-developer of the Simpsons, has amassed a literal fortune. Since leaving the cultural touchstone in 1993, the nine-time Emmy winner has kept an executive producer title that earns him "tens of millions" annually. Plus, the former Taxi showrunner has continued working steadily, from directing The Drew Carey Show to playing poker lucratively (he produced the short-lived poker-show Sam’s Game for Playboy TV) to contributing to FX’s Anger Management.
Over the years, Simon’s also established himself as a major philanthropist, founding the animal-rescue organization Sam Simon Foundation and contributing significantly to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, PETA, and Save the Children. So when he learned he'd been diagnosed with aggressive colorectal cancer that had metastasized and spread to his liver, kidneys, abdomen, and lymph system, he decided that he would leave nearly all of his money to charity.
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 [Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors] who have been amazing. We found fantastic trustees. It's something that will be living after I'm gone.
Last December when the one-time Cheers writer was in the hospital, he started buying zoos and circuses so he could shut them down. “I just wanted to have some days where I get to see animals walk in grass for the first time,” he also told the Hollywood Reporter. "The truth is, I have more money than I'm interested in spending. Everyone in my family is taken care of. And I enjoy this."