It happened this past week: the death, well before his time, of the creator of "SpongeBob SquarePants," Stephen Hillenburg.
A former marine biology teacher with a talent for art, Hillenburg dreamed up SpongeBob for Nickelodeon in 1999.
Oddly square in shape for a "natural-born" sponge, it turns out SpongeBob was anything but a square.
He lived in a pineapple under the sea in a place called Bikini Bottom.
Utterly clueless and devil-may-care, SpongeBob and friends quickly became a television hit, following up their success with a pair of movies.
And then last year saw the debut of a Broadway musical that won a dozen Tony nominations, not to mention:
Seemingly at the height of his success, Stephen Hillenburg was struck down by Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS)..
For more info:
- "SpongeBob SquarePants" (Nickelodeon)
- "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical" (Official site, beginning tour in 2019)
Story produced by Juliana Kracov.