Facts of Stephen Hillenburg
|Full Name||Stephen McDannell Hillenburg|
|Birth Name||Stephen McDannell Hillenburg|
|Profession||(late) Animator & Marine Educator|
|Birth City||Fort Sill, Oklahoma|
|Birth Country||United States|
|Father Name||Kelly N. Hillenburg Jr.|
|Father Profession||US Military|
|Mother Name||Nancy Hillenburg|
|Spouse||Karen Hillenburg (1998- until his death in 2018)|
|No Of Children||1|
|Filmography||SpongeBob SquarePants (1999- 2018)|
|Education||Humboldt State University, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)|
|Date of Birth||August 21,1961|
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.
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:
|Creator||Animation TV Series||Net Worth (In 2020)|
|Seth MacFarlane||Family Guy (1999- present)||$300 million|
|Matt Stone||South Park (1997- Present)||$700 million|
|Trey Parker||$600 million|
|Matt Groening||The 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.
Aside from TV series, the animation franchise grabbed hefty sum through movie releases as well; 2 films:
|Films||Budget||Box 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 Tournée 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).
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.
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.