"SpongeBob SquarePants" creator Stephen Hillenburg has died at age 57.
Nickelodeon says Hillenburg died Monday of Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as ALS.
Hillenburg conceived, wrote, produced and directed the animated series that began in 1999 and went on to spawn hundreds of episodes, movies, and a Broadway show.
“We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS,” Nickelodeon said in a statement. “He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family. Steve imbued ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ with a unique sense of humour and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere. His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination.”
Hillenburg conceived, wrote, produced and directed the animated series that premiered on May 1, 1999, and went on to spawn hundreds of episodes, movies, and a Broadway show. The series has aired nearly 250 episodes to date.
The series has won both U.S. and British Emmy Awards, Annie Awards, and ASACP Awards and has been dubbed or subtitled in more than 60 languages, including Urdu, Azerbaijani, and Maori.
Hillenburg also wrote, produced, and directed “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie”, which was released in 2004 and went on to gross over $140 million worldwide. Hillenburg then wrote the story for and was the executive producer of the sequel, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water,” in 2015.
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