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Facts of Stephen Hillenburg

Full NameStephen McDannell Hillenburg
First NameStephen
Middle NameMcDannell
Last NameHillenburg
Birth NameStephen McDannell Hillenburg
Other NameSteve
Profession(late) Animator & Marine Educator
NationalityAmerican
Birth CityFort Sill, Oklahoma
Birth CountryUnited States
Father NameKelly N. Hillenburg Jr.
Father ProfessionUS Military
Mother NameNancy Hillenburg
Mother ProfessionTeacher
Gender IdentityMale
Sexual OrientationStraight
HoroscopeLeo
SpouseKaren Hillenburg (1998- until his death in 2018)
No Of Children1
Networth120000000
Sibilings1
FilmographySpongeBob SquarePants (1999- 2018)
EducationHumboldt State University, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)
Networth$120 M
Date of BirthAugust 21,1961
Age58 years

Stephen Hillenburg, a late American animator & marine science educator is best known as the creator of animated series SpongeBob SquarePants (1999- 2018) on Nickelodeon, which is  5th-longest-running American animated series.

Turned professional in 1984, Hillenburg was active in the industry of animation creation until his death in 2018, at the age of 57. His work in SpongeBob SquarePants grabbed 2 Emmy Awards & 6 Annie Awards.

How Rich Was Stephen Hillenburg & What Was His Net Worth?

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Stephen Hillenburg had a net worth of $120 million at the time of death in 2018

The major source of his income was through his career as an animator- he got his breakthrough after creating SpongeBob SquarePants in 1999 (would run through 2018).

The Fort Sill, Lawton, Oklahoma-born worked in the series throughout 2018, until his death due to heart failure- caused by ALS disease.

Late Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants had $120 million net worth in 2018 at the time of death
Late Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants had $120 million net worth in 2018 at the time of death


Source: Rolling Stone

Initially, a marine biology educator, Hillenburg transited to animation after joining the California Institute of the Arts in 1989. Then, he went to work in  Nickelodeon animated short films: The Green Beret and Wormholes, both in 1992.

Thereafter, the late animator worked in animated TV series Rocko's Modern Life (1993- 1996) & would create & air the pilot episode of SpongeBob on May 1, 1999.

No doubt, Stephen's success as an animator consolidated his place among richest animators, with the likes of:

CreatorAnimation TV SeriesNet Worth (In 2020)
Seth MacFarlaneFamily Guy (1999- present)$300 million
Matt StoneSouth Park (1997- Present)$700 million
Trey Parker $600 million
Matt GroeningThe Simpsons (1989- Present)$600 million

'SpongeBob Squarepants' Is A Billion-Dollars Franchise

With over 2 decades of its launch, the SpongeBob Squarepants franchise has grown into a billion-dollar franchise. With over 700 license partners over the world, in 2017, it reportedly made $13 billion in merchandising revenue for Nickelodeon.

Back in 2015, the merchandise revenue from the Nickelodeon series was $12 billion, while the earnings in 2009 stood at $8 billion.

Stephen's creation SpongeBob SquarePants franchise grew into a billion-dollars franchise; in 2017, it had $13 billion in revenue
Stephen's creation SpongeBob SquarePants franchise grew into a billion-dollar franchise; in 2017, it had $13 billion in revenue

Source: Yahoo Finance

Aside from TV series, the animation franchise grabbed hefty sum through movie releases as well; 2 films: 

FilmsBudgetBox Office Collection
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)$30 million$140.2 million
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015)$74 million$325.2 million

As for a fact, Viacom, which distributes SpongeBob and Dora the Explorer, saw a new partner Amazon in 2013, after their contract with Netflix expired.

Reportedly, Amazon paid over $200 million to Viacom for the license- it is considered the company's largest subscription streaming transaction ever.

Was Marine Educator: What Inspired Him To Become Animator?

The 1984 graduate from Humboldt State University, Hillenburg, had various jobs: from park service attendant in Utah and an art director in San Francisco.

Later, he got a job at Orange County Marine Institute as a marine biology educator to children, where he would work for 3 years until 1987. There, Stephen created a comic The Intertidal Zone, to teach students about animal life in a tidal pool.

An avid animation fan, Stephen would attend the International TournĂ©e of Animation and Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation, so, in 1989, he enrolled at California Institute of the Arts to pursue an animation career.

Creation Of SpongeBob SquarePants

While at CalArts, he worked in 2 animation short-films in 1992: The Green Beret and Wormholes.

And after graduation, he landed in Nickelodeon's first in-house cartoon production Rocko's Modern Life (1993-1996) as a director.

Then in 1999, Stephen came up with an animated TV series of his own, SpongeBob SquarePants, which would become the 5th longest-running American animated series, throughout 2018 (Season 12).

In 1999, Stephen Hillenburg's animated TV series SpongeBob SquarePants aired & ran through 2018, being 5th-longest-running American animated series
In 1999, Stephen Hillenburg's animated TV series SpongeBob SquarePants aired & ran through 2018, being 5th-longest-running American animated series

Source: Geek Vibes Nation

Hillenburg admitted that the children TV series: The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse (1987- 1988) and Pee-wee's Playhouse (1986- 1991) got him an idea to create the SpongeBob franchise.

Reportedly, the main inspiration of the SpongeBob SquarePants series dates back in 1986, when he worked for Orange County Marine Institute & wrote a  tide pool animal based-comic The Intertidal Zone.

Nearly all the characters of the series are tide pool animals: crabs, octopuses, starfish & sponges.

Did you know? Stephen Hillenburg founded TV & film production company 'United Plankton Pictures' in 1998, that produces the SpongeBobs & its related media. Furthermore, the company also published 'SpongeBob Comics' from 2011 to 2018.

Was An Active Charity Worker

Stephen along with his wife Karen involved actively in charity works, the duo founded United Plankton Charitable Trust in 2005 and reportedly made an annual grant of $500,000.

Hillenburg's trust granted funds to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound, Polytechnic School, Planned Parenthood & many more.

Fathered A Son With Wife Karen: Where Did They Reside?

At the time of his death, Stephen Hillenburg lived with his wife Karen Hillenburg in their house in San Marino, California, however, he always remained low-key about the disclosure of the details.

He and Karen had married in 1998 & remained together for 2 decades, until Stephen's demise on November 26, 2018.

Stephen Hillenburg and his wife Karen Hillenburg
Stephen Hillenburg (late) and his wife Karen Hillenburg

Source: Heavy

Together, the duo welcomed a son named Clay Hillenburg circa 1998

Formerly, the couple lived in a house in Pasadena, California. The median house price in California is $859,000.

Family Background & Education

Stephen was born on August 21, 1961, in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the USA, to Kelly N. Hillenburg Jr., a US military & Nancy Hillenburg, who taught visually impaired students.

His birth name was Stephen McDannell Hillenburg & was nicknamed Steve.

Raised alongside younger brother Bryan, Stephen attended Savanna High School in Anaheim. Thereafter, he enrolled at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California & graduated in 1984, with a Bachelor's Degree in natural-resource planning and interpretation, especially on marine resources.

Cause Of Death

Hillenburg died on November 26, 2018, at the age of 57 at his home. Reportedly, the cause of his death was heart failure due to the ALS disease.

He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disease, which he disclosed in March 2017, in an interview with Variety.

As reported, Stephen's remains were cremated and his ashes were scattered off the coast of Los Angeles County, California.

Updated On Wed Apr 01 2020 Published On Wed Apr 01 2020 By CRM

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