Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of American animated TV series ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’, died at the age of 57 on November 26, 2018.
Nickelodeon, which has broadcast SpongeBob SquarePants since 1999, said in a statement that the cause of his death was motor neurone disease ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Hillenburg had revealed in March 2017 that he was diagnosed with ALS, a condition which causes the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles.
Aside from creating the character, Hillenburg also helmed the The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie in 2004.
SpongeBob fans all over the world paid tribute to the man, whose creative genius gave the world so much joy and happy memories.
Hillenburg is survived by his wife Karen, and his 20-year-old son Clay.
SpongeBob SquarePants wiki
SpongeBob SquarePants is based on an unpublished educational comic book titled “The Intertidal Zone”, which is about tide-pool animals and created by Hillenburg in 1989.
Hillenburg, then a marine biology teacher, used the book to educate his students.
SpongeBob SquarePants | Meet the Creator: Stephen Hillenburg
[ref: Nick Animation]
In 1994, Hillenburg began developing characters and concepts from his comic book into what became SpongeBob SquarePants.
When the Nickelodeon show “Rocko’s Modern Life” was cancelled, Hillenburg, who was the show’s director, turned to Tom Kenny to voice the character SpongeBob.
The SpongeBob Laugh by Tom Kenny
[ref: Flicks And The City Clips]
Nickelodeon premiered “The SpongeBob SquarePants” TV series in July 1999, and has received worldwide critical acclaim since then.
The series became a hit not only among children but also among older viewers. Around one-third of it viewers were aged 18 to 49.
SpongeBob and the fictional underwater city of Bikini Bottom is the highest rated series that aired on Nickelodeon, and the most distributed property of MTV Network.
It is now a media franchise, generating an estimated $13 billion in merhandising revenue for Nickelodeon.
The series has spawned two feature films, “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” (2004) and “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” (2015); and will have a third film titled “The SpongeBob Movie: It’s A Wonderful Sponge” set to be released in 2020.
The TV series SpongeBob SquarePants began airing its 12th season on Nickelodeon on November 11, 2018.