Stephen Hillenburg, the original creator of the hit Nickelodeon cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants, died this morning at the age of 57.
Hillenburg was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as ALS, in March of 2017 and died of neurological complications at his home in Southern California. Nickelodeon tweeted the news today stating, “We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants. Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work.” Nickelodeon went on to say that the characters and world Hillenburg created, “will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination.”
The nine-time Emmy nominee recently was awarded a Winsor McCay honor for contributions to the animation industry. His career did not begin with SpongeBob though. Starting in 1993, Hillenburg wrote and directed for other Nickelodeon projects like Rocko’s Modern Life and Rugrats.
Over its near two decade history, Nickelodeon’s biggest mascot has been featured in more than 250 episodes and has garnered accolades from the British Emmys, ASCAP and the Annies. Spongebob has also been the influence for two original feature-length films and a Tony-winning broadway musical.
Hillenburg leaves behind his wife of 20 years, Karen, and his son Clay. His mother Nancy, brother Brian, and nieces Emma and Hazel will also miss him.
Source: Hollywood Reporter