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Stephen Hillenburg (1961 - 2018), “SpongeBob SquarePants” creator

(Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for Paramount International)

The popular animated series has aired on Nickelodeon since 1999

Stephen Hillenburg was the creator of the popular animated series, “SpongeBob SquarePants.” He was a former marine biologist who changed careers to become an animator. He based the show on his love of the ocean.

Colorful characters on the series include his best friend Patrick, his boss Mr. Krabs, and his pet snail Gary.

According to the first season DVD, Hillenburg pitched the show to Nickelodeon wearing a Hawaiian shirt, played Hawaiian music, and had an underwater terrarium with models of the characters.

“SpongeBob SquarePants” was Nickelodeon’s first original Saturday morning cartoon. The series is still on the air today and has spawned two movies.

We invite you to share condolences for Stephen Hillenburg in our Guest Book.

Died: Monday, November 26, 2018 (Who else died on November 26?)

Details of death: Died from ALS at the age of 57.


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Notable Quote: “I wanted to do a show about a character that was an innocent, and so I focused on a sea sponge because it’s a funny animal, a strange one.” “I thought he was a funny, nerdy, squeaky-clean square.” - Hillenburg told the New York Times in 2001

What people said about him: “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.” – Statement from Nickelodeon

“I first discovered SPONGEBOB through my sons, who were loudly singing along with the dopey & memorable theme song downstairs. I came down to see what the ruckus was about and ended up watching my first episode. Many laughs. Many thanks, Steve Hillenburg. May you Rest In Peace.” – Brad Bird, director of “The Incredibles” on Twitter

"Wow what a unique and fantastic character Steve created! It was my pleasure and honor to be in SpongeBob The Movie and to share some great laughs with this gentleman, Shocking Loss! To this day I am stopped and flattered by people and kids who have seen me in the film." - Actor David Hasselhoff, who played a lifeguard in the 2004 film, "SpongeBob The Movie."

"Goodbye Stephen Hillenburg, thank you for the shared laughs with my kids through the years. We’re all Goofy Goobers thanks to you." - Skateboard legend Tony Hawk

Full obituary: New York Daily News

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The Faces Behind the Voices – Voice Actors Photo Gallery

Steve Ditko (1927 – 2018), Co-creator of Spider-Man