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Sam Simon, "Simpsons" co-creator and philanthropist, dies at 59

Sam Simon, a co-creator of "The Simpsons" who made a midlife career shift into philanthropy and channeled much of his personal fortune into social causes including animal welfare, has died after a long bout with cancer.

The nine-time Emmy winner died Sunday, his agent, Andy Patman said. He was 59.

"Simpsons" showrunner Al Jean also confirmed the news Monday on Twitter.

Hank Azaria, who voices numerous characters on "The Simpsons," also took to Twitter to pay tribute.

Simon was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer in 2011.

After stints writing for "Taxi," ''Cheers" and "The Tracey Ullman Show," Simon helped launch "The Simpsons" in 1989.

Sam Simon: A self-confessed dog nut

He left the series after its fourth season under a deal that rewarded him with ongoing royalties from the show, which remains in production. He established the Sam Simon Foundation, which rescues dogs from animal shelters and trains them to assist the disabled. He also funded a Los Angeles food bank and was a benefactor for Save the Children.

"As we mourn the loss of Sam, we also celebrate his life and legacy of giving to those who need it most," Save the Children President and CEO Carolyn Miles said in a statement. "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."

The Sam Simon Foundation also paid tribute with a statement posted on its Facebook page: "We all miss him, and in his honor, we will continue bringing his vision to light through our work at The Sam Simon Foundation. We take comfort in knowing how many greetings he is receiving across that Rainbow Bridge. We love you Sam!"

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