Stephen Hillenburg, creator of ‘Spongebob,’ passes away

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This has been a tough year for losing creative geniuses.

“The Wrap” is reporting that Spongebob Squarepants creator, Stephen Hillenburg, died yesterday after a battle with ALS.

“We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS,” Nickelodeon said in a statement to “The Wrap” on Tuesday. “He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family.”

He added, “Steve imbued SpongeBob SquarePants with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere. His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination.”

Hillenburg was born in Lawton, Oklahoma and raised in Anaheim, California, where he became fascinated with the ocean as a child and developed an interest in art. Crediting Oceanographer Jacques Cousteau with his fascination with marine life, Hillenburg began his professional career in 1984, instructing marine biology, at the Orange County Marine Institute. Here, he wrote “The Intertidal Zone,” an informative comic book about tide-pool animals.

It was at the Institute, that Hillenburg claims he began thinking about the sponge “who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” “I wanted to create a small town underwater where the characters were more like us than like fish. They have fire. They take walks. They drive. They have pets and holidays,” the creator once said to author Cherie D. Abbey in her book, “Biography Today: Profiles of People of Interest to Young Reader.”

Besides his two Emmy Awards and six Annie Awards for SpongeBob SquarePants, Hillenburg has also received other recognition, such as an accolade from “Heal the Bay” for his efforts on elevating marine life awareness, and the Television Animation Award from the National Cartoonists Society.

Hillenburg is survived by his wife of twenty years Karen Hillenburg, son Clay, mother Nancy Hillenburg (nee Dufour) and brother Brian Kelly Hillenburg, his wife Isabel and nieces Emma and Hazel. He was 57.

Source: The Wrap

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