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'The Simpsons' co-creator Sam Simon dies aged 59

Sam Simon has died at the age of 59 after a long battle with colon cancer. Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

Sam Simon, a co-creator of the long-running hit animated series 'The Simpsons,' has died after a battle with colon cancer at the age of 59, his agent said.

Simon won nine Emmy awards for his work as a writer, director and executive producer of 'The Simpsons'.

Ricky Gervais, who like many celebrities has appeared on the popular cartoon, tweeted a tribute.

Simon was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2011 and channelled much of his personal fortune into social causes including animal welfare.

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

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 and also funded a Los Angeles food bank.