Stephen Hillenburg had a love of drawing and a love of marine biology. He combined those dual loves into what has become a singular sensation: “SpongeBob SquarePants.” Sadly, Hillenburg died Monday of Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was only 57.
Hillenburg conceived, wrote, produced and directed the animated series that began in 1999 and ended up spawning hundreds of episodes, movies, a Broadway show — and even a giant balloon featured at the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
In a 2001 interview with The Associated Press, Hillenburg said his character was “an innocent in a world of jaded characters” and “the rest is absurd packaging.” In a 2002 A-P interview, Hillenburg summed up the success of his creation when he said, “when you set out to do a show about a sponge, you can’t anticipate this kind of craze.” (The Associated Press)