Animal activist and philanthropist Sam Simon, diagnosed with terminal colon cancer earlier this year, has announced that he will give away most of his fortune before he dies.
"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 58-year-old told The Hollywood Reporter. "I am getting buildings named after me and awards and stuff. 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."
That Simon is going all in is not surprising considering his extremely generous history with funding animal rights initiatives and feeding the hungry. Much of that cash came from his early involvement as one of three men responsible for bringing "The Simpsons" to television — a credit that still brings him tens of millions in royalties per year.
"'The Simpsons' money got bigger and bigger. When I left 'The Simpsons,' no one thought that this thing was going to still be around," he said of his decision to quit the series in 1993. "It's the cumulative effect. It's like, 'Oh my God, 25 years later, and it's still coming in.'"
As for his legacy, it's clear that Simon fully intends to continue funding animal rights groups and initiatives that get results and save lives, a distinction he says makes it much more attractive than donating to other charities.
"One of the things about animal rights, which is not the only thing that I care about in this world, is that your money can bring success," he says. "I see results. There is stuff happening, really good stuff, every week. I'm not sure you get that with a lot of disease charities. If you were donating to environmental causes for the past 20 years, do you think your money is doing anything? Because I don't, and I used to support some conservationist stuff — Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund. They're treading water. Climate change is a big part of their problem. The environment has been destroyed, basically."
In recognition of his work with the organization, PETA earlier this month renamed its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, the Sam Simon Center.
"Sam Simon may be a big Hollywood figure, but it's his big heart that makes him a PETA soul mate," said PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk.