It is sad news for all the SpongeBob SquarePants lovers around the world as the man behind the hit Nickelodeon animated show died on Monday.
Stephen Hillenburg, 57, succumbed to neurodegenerative disease known as ALS which he had been battling since March last year.
His death was announced by the official Nickelodeon Twitter handle, @nickelodeon.
“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 posted.
“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.”
Hillenburg graduated from Humboldt State University in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Planning and Interpretation, with an emphasis on marine resources.
He then became a marine biology teacher in California. This interest, combined with his artistic talent and love of the sea and its creatures, led him to write and illustrate stories as teaching tools with characters that would later become the denizens of SpongeBob’s home, Bikini Bottom.
The first episode of SpongeBob SquarePants aired on Nickelodeon on May 1, 1999 and the series commenced its full run on July 17 of that year. The series has aired nearly 250 episodes to date. It not only appeals to children but also older viewers as well. The character of SpongeBob SquarePants is voiced by Thomas James Kenny, an American actor, voice artiste, and comedian.
Hillenburg is survived by his wife of 20 years Karen Hillenburg and son Clay.