Stephen Hillenburg

American marine science educator and artist (1961-2018)

Stephen Hillenburg[1] (August 21, 1961 – November 26, 2018) was an American marine biologist, animator, writer, producer, actor, voice actor, and director. He was best known for creating the Nickelodeon animated series SpongeBob SquarePants.

Stephen Hillenburg
Hillenburg in 2011
Stephen McDannell Hillenburg

(1961-08-21)August 21, 1961
DiedNovember 26, 2018(2018-11-26) (aged 57)
Cause of deathHeart failure complicated by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Other namesSteve Hillenburg
Alma materHumboldt State University
Occupation(s)Marine biologist, scientist, teacher, animator, television director, television producer, writer
Years active1991–
Known forRocko's Modern Life,
SpongeBob SquarePants,
The Intertidal Zone,
SpouseKaren Hillenburg

Hillenburg was born in Lawton, Oklahoma at a United States Army base. He was raised in Anaheim, California. He studied at Humboldt State University where he majored in marine biology and minored in arts. Hillenburg was inspired by Jacques Cousteau and Max Fleischer. Hillenburg had a wife named Karen Umland (now named Karen Hillenburg),[2] which he married till his death.

In March 2017, he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) which is a terminal illness that affects the nervous system.[3] Hillenburg died from heart failure as a complication of the disease on November 26, 2018 in San Marino, California at the age of 57.[4] He is still credited as an executive producer after his death.


  1. "People Search: Hillenburg, Stephen". Veromi. 2010-04-05. Retrieved 2010-04-05.
  2. Staff writer(s) (January 2001). "To Love & Die in L.A." Los Angeles Magazine. Emmis Communications. p. 138. ISSN 1522-9149. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  3. Wallenstein, Andrew (March 13, 2017). "'SpongeBob SquarePants' Creator Stephen Hillenburg Reveals ALS Diagnosis". Variety. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  4. "Stephen Hillenburg, Creator of 'SpongeBob SquarePants,' Dies at 57". The Hollywood Reporter. November 27, 2018.

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