Stephen Hillenburg, Creator SpongeBob SquarePants Creator Dies

Word yesterday afternoon that Stephen Hillenburg, who created SpongeBob SquarePants and the absurd undersea world he inhabited, died Monday at age 57 after announcing he had Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS in March of 2017. With a love of both drawing and marine biology and becoming a marine biology teacher, he then shifted to drawing and earned a master of fine arts degree in animation from the California Institute of the Arts in 1992. That same year, he created Wormholes, an animated short, that helped land him a job on the Nickelodeon show Rocko’s Modern Life, where he worked from 1993 to 1996 before he began to build SpongeBob’s undersea world, which showed off his knowledge of marine life and willingness to throw all the details out the window. He conceived, wrote, produced and directed the animated series that began in 1999 and it quickly appealed to college kids and parents as much as it did kids. In 2004, the show shifted to the big screen with The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and a 2015 sequel, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants passing away at 57.

Note: The show was an immediate hit in 1999 as its nearly 250 episodes have won four Emmys and 15 Kids Choice Awards, and led to an endless line of merchandise to rival any other pop cultural phenomenon of the 2000’s. A musical stage adaptation bowed on Broadway in 2017, with music from such stars as Steven Tyler, Sara Bareilles and John Legend. It earned 12 Tony Award nominations, including one for best performance by a leading actor for Ethan Slater. Hillenburg is survived by his wife of 20 years, Karen Hillenburg, son Clay, mother Nancy Hillenburg and a brother, Brian Kelly Hillenburg.

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