Sam Simon, 59, a co-creator of "The Simpsons" and an animal rights advocate who made a midlife career shift into philanthropy, channeling much of his personal fortune into social causes, died Sunday at his home in Pacific Palisades, Calif. He was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer in 2011.

After writing for "Taxi," ''Cheers" and "The Tracey Ullman Show," Simon helped launch "The Simpsons." During his writing and producing career, he collected nine prime-time Emmy awards.

He left "The Simpsons" after its fourth season under a deal that rewarded him with ongoing royalties from the show, which is now in its 26th season.

He established the Sam Simon Foundation, which rescues dogs from animal shelters and trains them to assist the disabled. He also donated to Mercy for Animals and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

In 2013, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' Norfolk, Va., headquarters were christened the Sam Simon Center in recognition of his support. He also funded a Los Angeles food bank.

Associated Press