Donald Clarence “Don” Simpson was an American film producer, screenwriter, and actor. 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. Simpson left Paramount in 1982 and forged a partnership with fellow producer Jerry Bruckheimer. 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. The deal would prove to be short lived. Later that year, the Simpson and Bruckner-produced Days of Thunder starring Tom Cruise was released. The auto racing film received mixed reviews and grossed $158 million (over a $60 million budget). While the film was still a financial success, it did not match the success of Simpson and Bruckheimer’s previous films. The duo mutually parted with Paramount shortly thereafter.
In 1991, the two signed with Disney. Their first film for Disney, The Ref (1994), was a financial flop. Their following films, Dangerous Minds, Crimson Tide, and Bad Boys, all released in 1995, brought the pair back to success.