Remembering Stephen Hillenburg
Written by: Hakeem Shabazz-Norris
Stephen Hillenburg, former director of Rocko’s Modern Life and creator of the classic animated show SpongeBob SquarePants, passed away earlier this week after a long battle with ASL. He was 57 years old.
Stephen was born August 21, 1961, in Lawton, Oklahoma. He attended and graduated Humboldt State University in 1984, majoring in Natural Resource Planning and Interpretation, with a concentration in Marine Resources. He used his college success and his artistic background to influence the designs for the loveable characters that were on SpongeBob.
Stephen then started his animation career in 1987, as he attended the California Institute of Arts majoring in Experimental Animation, and soon after, he earned his Master of Fine Arts in 1992.
In 1993, Stephen got a job at Nickelodeon Studios as a director and writer for Rocko’s Modern Life, he continued to work on the show until 1996, where he then spent full time on writing, producing, and directing a project that would soon become the show we all know and love, SpongeBob SquarePants.
SpongeBob SquarePants first premiered May 1, 1999, which follows the story of a yellow sponge named SpongeBob and his starfish friend Patrick, as they go through life and encounter the wildest and wackiest situations and people. The show has aired nearly 250 episodes to date, has produced two movies, and has left its mark on American culture. It has also set the precedent for how shows were produced, and the comedy that came along with it.
SpongeBob SquarePants has won multiple awards throughout its run on TV, Including Daytime Emmy Awards, Kids Choice Awards, Teen Choice Awards, British Emmy Awards, and ASACP Awards, just to name a few.
Stephen is survived by his wife Karen Hillenburg, his son Clay Hillenburg, his mother Nancy, and his brother Brian Kelly.
Stephen has touched the hearts of generations and has left a smile in the hearts of us all. He will be missed.