SpongeBob SquarePants Creator Stephen Hillenburg Has Died at 57

Hillenburg is credited for the source material and as a composer for Broadway’s ”SpongeBob SquarePants” musical.

Stephen Hillenburg has died at the age of 57.
Stephen Hillenburg has died at the age of 57.
(© David Gordon)

SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg has died at the age of 57, Variety reports. Hillenburg went public with his diagnosis of ALS in March 2017.

Hillenburg's career began as a marine biology teacher at the Orange County Marine Institute. While there, teaching subjects like tide-pool ecology and nautical history, he created a comic called The Intertidal Zone, with anthropomorphic sea creatures that would eventually evolve into the characters of SpongeBob SquarePants. He later enrolled in the Experimental Animation Program at CalArts, received a Master of Fine Arts, and created the animated works The Green Beret and Wormholes.

In 1993, Hillenburg landed a job as a writer, producer, and artist on Nickelodeon's Rocko's Modern Life. Thereafter, he went to work creating SpongeBob, which premiered on May 1, 1999, and has aired nearly 250 episodes to date. For the series, he received 17 Emmy nominations, winning the honor in 2010 and 2014. He also created the two film adaptations, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.

SpongeBob SquarePants became a Broadway musical in 2017, and while Hillenburg was not directly involved with the production, he retained a credit as the creator of the original television series.

Hillenburg is survived by his wife, Karen, and their son, Clay, as well as his mother, Nancy.