'SpongeBob SquarePants' Creator Stephen Hillenburg Has Died Aged 57
Stephen Hillenburg, the man who created SpongeBob SquarePants, has died aged 57.
A statement from Nickelodeon confirmed the cartoonist's death.
Posting on Twitter, the network wrote: "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 honour his life and work."
Hillenberg began working on SpongeBob all the way back in 1999, seeing it go from an idea to a cult classic, gaining millions of fans.
:yellow_heart: 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. :yellow_heart:- Nickelodeon (@Nickelodeon) November 27, 2018
In March 2017, Hillenberg released a statement through Variety to say he had been diagnosed with motor neuron disease - better known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the US.
He said at the time: "I wanted people to hear directly from me that I have been diagnosed with ALS.
"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.
"We ask that our sincere request for privacy be honoured during this time."
He had previously worked a marine biology teacher, who used his love of the ocean and its inhabitants to come up with ideas for a cartoons that he would use as learning tools for his classes.
He left behind teaching and went into animation in the late 1980s. From 1993 to 1996 he worked on Rocko's Modern Life, another Nickelodeon hit, as a director and writer, before deciding to start working full-time on the show that would become SpongeBob SquarePants, which he wrote, produced and directed.
It aired in May 1999 and still runs to the day. It boasts an army of fans from children to adults and has picked up a number of awards including Emmys and Annie awards.