SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg has died at age 57.
The announcement was made by Nickeloden on Tuesday. He was a cartoonist and animator who dreamed up the frenetic series about creatures living on the sea floor.
‘We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants,’ the network said in a tweet. ‘Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honour his life and work.’
Sad loss: SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg has died at age 57. Seen in 2001 in LA
Fun for kids: His show debuted in 1999 and rocked the animated TV show world because the pace was much faster than most kid cartoon series. The show centered on a square yellow sponge named SpongeBob SquarePants
The Emmy award winner had been in poor health.
The TV vet announced last year he had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS, is a progressive disease that attacks nerve cells that control the muscles. There is no known cure.
Hillenburg told Variety at the time that he would continue to work on the show and his other passions for as long as he’s able to.
More recent: Here the star is seen in 2015 at an event in LA
At the time Nickelodeon said in a statement to Variety that he ‘is a brilliant creator who brings joy to millions of fans’ and that the network’s ‘thoughts and support’ are with Hillenburg and his family.
His show debuted in 1999 and rocked the animated TV show world because the pace was much faster than most kid cartoon series.
The series centered on a square yellow sponge named SpongeBob SquarePants.
He lives in a pineapple with his pet snail, Gary, in the city of Bikini Bottom on the floor of the Pacific Ocean.
Their note: ‘We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants,’ the network said in a tweet. ‘Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honour his life and work’
For work, he is a fry cook at the Krusty Krab, a popular eatery.
Other characters are his best friend, a starfish, as well as octopus Squidward Tentacles.
It is one of the longest-running American television series as well as the highest-rated show ever to air on Nickelodeon.
Stephen – who was a fan of French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau – was also behind two SpongeBob movies: The 2004 hit The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and the 2015 sequel The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.
Happy in his personal life: The creator in October 2017 at the Princess Grace Awards Gala 2017 held at The Beverly Hilton with Karen Hillenburg
‘I make animation because I like to draw and create things. I have no real interest to be on camera or to be a celebrity. It’s not that I don’t like people, but I like having my privacy,’ he said.
Hillenburg used to work as a marine biology teacher at the Orange County Marine Institute.
That is where he wrote The Intertidal Zone, an informative comic book about tide-pool animals.
He used the pictures to help educate his students.
He left teaching in 1987 and then in 1989 he enrolled at the California Institute of the Arts to pursue a career in animation. He went on to work for Nickelodeon on Rocko’s Modern Life from 1993 until 1996.
He was born in Lawton, Oklahoma and raised in Anaheim, California.
The Hollywood vet is survived by his wife Karen, a chef who teaches at the New School Of Cooking in Culver City. California. Together they have a son named Clay, 20.
Julia Pistor, co-producer of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, said of Stephen, ‘He doesn’t want people to know about his life or family. He’s just a really funny, down-to-earth guy with a dry sense of humor who puts his family first and keeps us on our toes in keeping our corporate integrity.’