Stephen Hillenburg is the creator of the 19-year-old show, “Spongebob Squarepants.” He was diagnosed with the disease ALS in March of 2017, which he sadly ended up losing his battle to on November 26.
Hillenburg attended Humboldt State University and California Institute of the Arts, leading into his career of marine-biology and animation. He is remembered by his wife, Karen Hillenburg, and their child.
People of all ages and walks of life have paid tribute to Hillenburg, celebrities included. Falcons receiver Mohamed Sanu had his cleats custom-made to show his love for the late creator. The cleats feature Spongebob’s pineapple, Squidwards’ Easter Island Head, and Patrick’s rock on the sea floor. It also shows off Spongebob next to the famous Bikini Bottom city sign.
Hillenburg never imagined that his show would ever gain the popularity it did. The show holds the title of fifth longest-running cartoon series in America and has won four Emmy awards. “Spongebob Squarepants” has also been able to grow into a nearly eight billion dollar-a-year franchise.
“This kitchen isn’t the same without you.” said Jerry Winch, referencing a popular song from the show, “Without You,” sung by Mr. Krabs and Spongebob.
Hillenburg’s fascination in marine life started with his love of Jacques Cousteau’s underwater documentaries. His interest in animation sparked at an animation festival at the LA County Museum of Art. There he watched one of Dutch animator Paul Driessen’s films and was hooked on the idea of animating.
“I’m sad to hear that he passed. He had such an impact on so many lives,” said Hana Johnson.
One episode of “Spongebob” features the fish of Bikini Bottom performing at a football halftime show. Because of this, over 840,000 dedicated fans have signed a petition to get David Glen Eisley’s “Sweet Victory,” the song played in the episode, performed at the 2019 Super Bowl. You can help and sign this petition here as a tribute to Hillenburg.