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‘Spongebob Squarepants’ Creator Stephen Hillenburg Has Died at 57

After a long battle with ALS, Spongebob Squarepants creator Stephen Hillenburg died yesterday at age 57. He revealed his diagnosis in March of last year. Spongebob was the highest-rated show in Nickelodeon and is one of the longest-running programs on television. Some consider it one of the greatest cartoons ever made.

Nickelodeon acknowledged Hillenburg’s passing today with a moment of silence:

Before he was an animator, Hillenburg was a marine biology teacher in California. His television career began in the 1980s when he was offered a job on Rocko’s Modern Life. During those years, Hillenburg was already creating characters that would occupy the future Bikini Bottom: Patrick Star, Sandy Cheeks and, of course, Spongebob Squarepants.

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Spongebob premiered in 1999 to massive success. Its cast of characters from Squidward to Plankton to Mrs. Puff to Mr. Krabs delighted and inspired kids all over the world. Hillenburg received two Emmy awards for Spongebob as showrunner, but he also directed the Spongebob Squarepants Movie before retiring in 2004 (he would resume work on the show in 2015).

Hillenburg is survived by his wife, Karen, and his son, Clay.

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