Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Over the weekend I was thinking of two great TV people who were diagnosed with a terminal illness a while ago but are still around--Valerie Harper (who just did a guest shot on 2 Broke Girls) and comedy writer extraordinaire Sam Simon.  I wondered if they'd beat the odds.

Well, as you may have heard, Sam Simon just passed away.

Simon worked on some of the greatest shows of our time.  He rose to prominence as a regular writer for Taxi, one of the most imaginatively plotted sitcoms ever.  He then worked on such varied yet high-quality shows as Cheers, It's Garry Shandling's Show and The Tracey Ullman Show.

That last was where the Simpsons characters first appeared, and it may be why when they got their own show, Sam was one of the creators, along with Matt Groening and James L. Brooks.  Groening was the cartoonist who came up with the family (based on his own) and James L. Brooks was the big name writer-producer who protected the show from interference in its early years.  But it was Simon who was in the trenches, guiding through each script, setting the tone and quality, creating characters such as Mr. Burns and Chief Wiggum.  If I had to pick one person most responsible for making The Simpsons the phenomenon it was, it'd be Simon.

He would work on other titles, such as The Drew Carey Show, but also spent a lot of his time and money on philanthropic ventures.  He was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and given six months, so his death today wasn't shocking, but still quite sad.


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