Don Simpson

Simpson was born in Seattle, Washington and grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. He attended West Anchorage High School, and went on to attend the University of Oregon. After graduation, he moved to San Francisco where he worked for a theatrical advertising agency and did public relations for the First International Erotic Film Festival.[2]


In the early 1970s, Simpson moved to Los Angeles and got a job marketing exploitation films for Warner Bros. In 1973, Simpson got a job at Paramount Pictures. While there, he co-wrote the 1976 film Cannonball, in which he also had a small role. By 1981, he was named president of production at Paramount.[2]

Simpson left Paramount in 1982 and forged a partnership with fellow producer Jerry Bruckheimer.[3] The two would go on to produce some of the most financially successful films of the 1980s: Flashdance (1983), Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Top Gun (1986) and Beverly Hills Cop II (1987). In 1985 and again in 1988, he and his producing partner, Jerry Bruckheimer, were named Producers of the Year by the National Association of Theatre Owners.

In 1990, Simpson and Bruckheimer signed a five-year deal with Paramount worth a reported $300 million. However, the duo’s first film for Paramount, 1990’s Days of Thunder, received mixed reviews and did poorly at the box office. Simpson and Bruckheimer blamed Paramount for the film’s failure stating that Paramount rushed the planning and release of the film. Paramount blamed the film’s failure on Simpson and Bruckheimer’s overspending. The duo mutually parted with Paramount shortly thereafter.[4][5]

In 1991, the two signed with Disney. Their first film for Disney, The Ref (1994), was a financial flop. Their following films, Dangerous MindsCrimson Tide, and Bad Boys, all released in 1995, brought the pair back to success.[4]

Drug use[edit]

As Simpson and Bruckheimer’s success grew, so did Simpson’s reputation for being a brash “party animal”. He had been taking cocaine since the 1980s but his usage increased over the years. His excessive spending (in both films and his personal life) and erratic moods caused by his drug use were well known within the Hollywood industry by the 1990s. According to screenwriter James Toback, both David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg had attempted to get Simpson to go to rehab for his drug use.[4]

Simpson refused to admit himself into a traditional rehab facility and instead employed Dr. Stephen Ammerman, a doctor from Pacific Palisades who had a history of drug abuse. Ammerman believed that in order for Simpson to quit drugs, he had to use other drugs to combat the effects of painful withdrawal symptoms. Ammerman designed a “dangerously unorthodox” detox program, which included the use of several medications (including morphine), for Simpson to do at home to kick his drug habit.[6] On August 15, 1995, Ammerman was found dead in the pool house on Simpson’s estate. It was later determined that Ammerman died of an accidental overdose of cocaine,ValiumVenlafaxine and morphine.[7]

Frustrated with Simpson’s escalating drug use and declining work, Jerry Bruckheimer terminated their partnership in December 1995. The two agreed to finish work on The Rock, which was already in production.[8] The Rock was released after Simpson’s death and is dedicated to his memory.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Simpson was never married.[2] His personal life has been documented in a number of sources. A chapter in the book You’ll Never Make Love in This Town Again (which describes four prostitutes‘ stories about their sexual encounters with Hollywood celebrities) discusses his preferences for S & M.[10]


On January 19, 1996, Simpson was found dead in his bathroom of his Bel Air, Los Angeles home.[11] His death was initially reported as “natural“. An autopsy and toxicology report later determined that Simpson had died of heart failure from combined drug intoxication (cocaine and prescription medications). At the time of his death, there were 21 different drugs in his system including antidepressants, stimulants, sedatives, and tranquilizers. In August 1996, investigative reporter Chuck Philips of The Los Angeles Times revealed that Simpson had been obtaining large quantities of prescription drugs from 15 different doctors and that police found 2,200 prescription pills in his home.[6][12][13]

A 1998 book by journalist Charles Fleming reported that Simpson’s prescription drug expenses were over $60,000 a month at the time of his death.[14]


Year Title Role Notes
1975 Aloha, Bobby and Rose Writer, uncredited
1976 Cannonball Assistant District Attorney Writer
Credited as Donald C. Simpson
1983 Flashdance Producer
1984 Beverly Hills Cop Producer
1984 Thief of Hearts Producer
1986 Top Gun Producer
1987 Beverly Hills Cop II Producer
1990 Days of Thunder Aldo Bennedetti Producer
1994 The Ref Executive producer
1995 Bad Boys Producer
1995 Crimson Tide Producer
1995 Dangerous Minds Producer
1996 The Rock Producer

About bdehaven

DeHaven keeps his heart in Chicago and his soul in New Orleans-that's why he lives in Las Vegas. He holds a MBA from Tulane and a film degree from Columbia. Once ejected from a community college for arguing Frost's agenda in Birches, he has since written screenplays, traded futures in Madrid, and was Editor in Chief of the Nola Shopper Newspaper.(and enterprise Michael Enzo Bankrupt) He also has a "shout out" in a Jay "Z" Song. He and Michael Enzo were friends. "A celebrity ghostwriter, you’ve never heard of, examining his own life of crushing addictions and alleged organized crime connections while struggling to present the truth behind our own behaviors." Author of Confessions of a Self-Help Writer (The Journal of Michael Enzo) the #1 Most Wished for Book of the Year on Indie Bound for over 14 weeks
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