Nov 27, 2018
By Tara Weiss
Hillenburg turned his love of animation and marine biology into a cultural icon.
Stephen Hillenburg, the marine biologist-turned-creator of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants, died Monday from ALS. He was 57.
“We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS,” Nickelodeon said in a statement 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.
“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.”
"“I think we all thought the show would be good, but I didn't ever assume it would catch on in a mass audience sort of way.”"
SpongeBob SquarePants Creator
'The SpongeBob SquarePants' Preview At Tokyo International Anime Fair in 2006. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)
Hillenburg and wife Karen Hillenburg attend the'SpongeBob SquarePants' Broadway opening night at Palace Theatre on December 4, 2017 (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
The opening night of Nickelodeon's 'SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical' at Ziegfeld Ballroom. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)
Hillenburg and producer Sherry Lansing attend the film premiere of 'The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie' at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in 2004 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)