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Creator of SpongeBob SquarePants Dies at 57
Stephen Hillenburg, Brain Behind SpongeBob Dies at 57
The 57 year old Humboldt State University graduate, died after a battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), which he had been diagnosed with in March.
“We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS. He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family,” Nickolodeon said in a statement.
“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,” the statement read.
Hillenburg, born in Lawton, Oklahoma, in 1961 began working as a writer and director on Nickelodeon’s ‘Rocko’s Modern Life’ after he graduated with an experimental animation degree from the California Institute of Arts in Valencia in 1992.
He went on to work for the network full-time, producing his animated series that eventually became “SpongeBob SquarePants,” which debuted on May 1, 1999.
According to Hillenburg, the May 1, 1999 debut was inspired by his love for marine science as he had been a marine biology teacher in Dana Point, California.
“Obviously SpongeBob is comedy but it really was inspired by me liking marine science,” he told Nick Animation.
“I focused on that and I never thought the two would come together,” he said.