One intriguing thing about cartoon characters is that they seem to have more than nine lives as they almost never die. However, the same cannot be said of the actors and actresses who bring them to life. In 1994, a genius idea from Stephen McDannell Hillenburg led to the creation of SpongeBob SquarePants which later metamorphosed into a world-class animated show following its premiere in 1999. The series hit the ground running and has remained relevant since its debut with no trace of drawing the curtains.
Furthermore, the SpongeBob franchise made it to the big screen in two film adaptation projects – The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004) and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015). It also won numerous awards, including an Emmy. Nevertheless, the success of his brainchild didn’t mean all was well with the mastermind behind the SpongeBob character. Find herein, telling details about the American animator, voice actor, and brain behind the acclaimed animated television series.
What Happened To SpongeBob?
The SpongeBob SquarePants series, which debuted on the small screen on May 1, 1999, has entertained millions of kids and families around the world for more than two decades. It has equally scored several awards and nominations for the excellence it oozes. However, it emerged in 2018, even before the death of the creator, that Spongebob Squarepants, one of the most popular animated series to ever grace our screens, was going to end. But on the contrary, we gathered that Nickelodeon had picked up the series to run for the 12th season. The deal was sealed in May 2017 and will see the twelfth installment spawn 26 episodes, that will air in 2019.
This means that the square-shaped yellow sponge named SpongeBob SquarePants is safe and is still expected to continue his life in his pineapple home with his pet snail named Gary. While SpongeBob lives on in the city of Bikini Bottom located on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, the same cannot be said of its creator, Stephen Hillenburg.
When, How And At What Age Did SpongeBob Squarepants’ Creator Die?
Taking to Twitter a day after the death of Stephen Hillenburg, Nickelodeon expressed grief while relaying the news of the painful passing of the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants. In March 2017, Hillenburg released a statement through Variety magazine, sharing his diagnosis with early stages of a fatal neurodegenerative disease known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
Despite the effects of the deadly disease that annihilates motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, he promised to continue working on SpongeBob and he did this for more than a year before the illness claimed his life on November 26, 2018, as a result of heart failure which can be traced to the ALS disease. He passed on at the age of 57, at his home in Southern California. His remains were cremated the next day and his ashes were sprayed in the Pacific Ocean.
Hillenburg is best remembered for creating the hit Nickelodeon animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants. He didn’t just create the sponge-shaped character and his environment, he equally directed, produced, and wrote the series.
Awards And Legacy
For his outstanding creation, Hillenburg received a lot of award nominations during his lifetime, while some also came posthumously. A total of 17 Emmy Awards have been given to the SpongeBob Squarepants series so far and it won in the categories of Outstanding Special Class Animated Program in 2010 and Outstanding Sound Editing – Animation in 2014.
Asides the Emmy Awards which often recognized the show, Spongebob Squarepants also got recognition from other award bodies, including 17 nominations at the Annie Awards, out of which it won six times. The show also got four nominations at the British Academy Children’s Awards, winning two. SpongeBob SquarePants bagged its first TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Children’s Programming Submission in 2002.
Stephen Hillenburg was recognized by Heal the Bay, an environmental nonprofit organization, in 2001, when he was honored with a Walk the Talk Award. This recognition was given to him for raising public awareness of marine life which he achieved through the creation of the successful show – SpongeBob SquarePants.
Other accolades received by Hillenburg include the Television Animation Award from the National Cartoonists Society, the Princess Grace Statue Award from the Princess Grace Foundation and the Winsor McCay Award at the 45th Annie Award, among others.