Stephen Hillenburg

Born in Lawton, Oklahoma, but raised in Anaheim, California, Stephen Hillenburg's passion for drawing came early. Encouraged in school, Hillenburg continued his art, but was also fascinated by the sea, and graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in marine biology. Hillenburg landed a job as a teacher, but decided that he couldn't deny his passion for art and enrolled in Cal Arts, graduating in 1992. He quickly landed a job as a director on "Rocko's Modern Life" (Nickelodeon, 1993-96), Nickelodeon's first attempt at producing their own animated content. When that show was cancelled, Hillenburg turned to a comic he had created when he was teaching marine biology to young students. "SpongeBob SquarePants" (Nickelodeon, 1999-) quickly became a phenomenon. "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" (2002) grossed over $100 million worldwide. A second film "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water" (2015) grossed over 3 times that. The show has been nominated for seventeen Annie Awards for animation, winning 6, and eighteen Emmys, winning 4, including a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Animated Series in 2018. Hillenburg revealed in 2017 that he had been diagnosed with ALS, and died in November 2018.