The former Casualty star died in a London clinic after a brave four-year fight against a disease that he refused to let dominate his life.
In a moving tribute to her beloved husband of 25 years, actress Susan said: “To me, he was simply the best of everything, and I loved him with all my heart He will live on in me forever”
Simon had credited his wife (together, above) as being an “unbelievable” support throughout his ordeal And Susan was quick to pay tribute to the TV and stage star’s own fighting spirit as she mourned his passing. “No one could have fought this disease any harder than he did since being diagnosed four years ago” she said. “He fought it with such strength, courage and belief. Last night, he lost this battle, and he died peacefully in my arms”
Simon was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2006, but incredibly kept the truth a secret from the world for three and a half years, throwing himself into his work and refusing to let the illness affect his life. However, during this time he was told the cancer had spread to his lungs and was terminal.
“It was like being hit by a truck” he admitted, as the brave couple spoke poignantly of their battle exclusively in HELLO! last December. “I’m quite strong, but I have to say it did take my breath away… but it does give you a kick up the pants, warning you not to put things on the back burner. Going around feeling sorry for yourself does you no good at all. A good laugh does wonders”
It was this positive attitude that allowed the couple to come to terms with the awful truth of his illness. “Never underestimate the power of the mind and spirit,” said Cambridge-born Simon, who also insisted that he could not have coped without the never-ending support of his wife.
Susan was a constant presence by his side as he underwent surgery, chemotherapy and countless alternative therapies. “Her caring and love has brought us even closer together,” he told HELLO!. “I try to think positive — that it’s something which is part of our life and that we have to deal with.”
A LIFE IN PICTURES
The news of Simon’s death came just a week after he appeared in an episode of the hugely popular BBC drama New Tricks. His career spanned five decades – starting in 1974, when he made his West End debut in Pygmalion alongside Diana Rigg. A stint in several TV miniseries followed, but it was his role in the Hollywood adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile in 1978 that catapulted him to stardom.
Simon moved to Hollywood two years later, and his good looks and talent proved an immediate hit He took on high-profile roles in long-running series Falcon Crest and Manimal, as well as cameos in Dynasty, The Dukes of Hazzard and Hart to Hart, before returning to the UK in 1986.
He worked regularly on stage and screen, with his last major starring role being Doctor Harry Harper in Casualty, from 2002 to 2008, but it is testament to his attitude that it was only in the past six months that Simon scaled back his acting work – choosing instead to help former child star Susan, who starred alongside Dustin Hoffman in the 1971 film Straw Dogs, pen her autobiography.
“Simon had an extraordinary career encompassing – among many other things -matinee idol, Hollywood lead, film and theatre director, producer and horse breeder. That amazing energy and appetite for life remained with him to the end” said John Yorke, controller of BBC drama production.
“It is a massive tribute to Simon that he bore his illness so stoically, never asking for sympathy or attention, and continuing to work for as long as he was able. He will be missed massively by his many fans, and by everyone who worked with him.”