In March of last year, Stephen Hillenburg, creator of the Nickelodeon television series “Spongebob Squarepants, announced that he was diagnosed with ALS. ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive disease that affects the nerve cells located in the brain and spinal cord. Patients often experience muscle weakness, especially when performing delicate tasks. However, Hillenburg didn’t plan on letting the disease hold him back in any task.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I will continue to work on ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ and my other passions for as long as I am able. My family and I are grateful for the outpouring of love and support,” Hillenburg stated.
Unfortunately, it has been reported that the beloved creator died from the disease Monday. Jessica Berger, a family representative, and Nickelodeon released a statement confirming the news.
💛 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 (@Nickelodeon) November 27, 2018
Nickelodeon stated, “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 began his work for Nickelodeon on the show “Rocko’s Modern Life.” He worked as a director and writer. This experience allowed him to secure a full-time job of directing, writing, and producing the iconic show “Spongebob Squarepants.”
The show aired on May 1, 1999, and was in full force by July 7th. As of today, there has been over 250 episodes aired and has been translated into several languages. In addition, the show has won Emmy Awards, Annie Awards, and ASACP Awards.
Today the world mourns for the loss of an animation legend. Our hearts go out to his wife Karen Hillsburg, mother Nancy Hillenburg, son Clay, along with the rest of his relatives and friends.