A key figure - according to many, <i>the</i> significant creative force - behind "The Simpsons" (Fox 1989- ), writer/producer/director Sam Simon was responsible for much of the historic animated series' tone and direction during its initial seasons before departing in 1993 to focus on other programs and a vast array of philanthropic efforts. The Los Angeles native began in daytime animated programming before penning scripts and producing for several popular primetime series, including "Taxi" (NBC/ABC 1978-1983) before collaborating with James L. Brooks and Matt Groening on "The Simpsons." Simon was credited with laying the foundation for many of the show's characters and its more adult, story-driven tone, but clashes with Brooks and Groening led to his departure in its third season. He left the show with a historic contract that granted him a yearly portion of its immense profits, which made him extraordinarily wealthy. Simon dabbled in producing and directing other series, including "The Drew Carey Show" (ABC 1995-2004), but devoted much of his time to establishing charities that cared for animals and people in need. A 2012 diagnosis of terminal cancer prompted him to dedicate his remaining time and fortune to various charities, which underscored the shift in his status from one of the entertainment industry's most successful but volatile figures to one of its most caring. Sam Simon died at his Los Angeles home on March 8, 2015, at the age of 59.