Legendary Marvel Comics co-creator Stan Lee — famous for giving the world beloved superheroes including Spider-Man, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk — died Monday. He was 95.
According to TMZ, Lee suffered a number of illnesses over the last year, including pneumonia. His daughter J.C. told the site, “My father loved all of his fans. He was the greatest, most decent man.”
The New York Post reports,
Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber to Romanian-born Jewish immigrants in New York City, spending much of his early life in Washington Heights. He graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx at 16, and after working odd jobs, was hired as an office assistant at Timely Comics — where his cousin’s husband worked — eventually moving up to an interim editor position by the early 1940s. He first used the pseudonym Stan Lee, which he would later adopt as his legal name, in the May 1941 issue of “Captain America.”
Lee took a brief respite from the comics industry in the early 1940s, when he enlisted in the US Army and served in the Signal Corps, repairing communications equipment, and also worked in the Training Film Division, where he wrote manuals, slogans and cartoons.
He returned to Timely Comics in 1945 and married wife Joan two years later. They welcomed their daughter, Joan Celia “J.C.” Lee, in 1950; their younger daughter, Jan, died at just 3 days old in 1953.
In 1950, Timely Comics publisher Martin Goodman tasked Lee with creating a new superhero team to rival DC Comics’ Justice League. By that time, the public’s view of comics had taken a downturn, and a disheartened Lee considered leaving the business until his wife urged him to write one story he “really liked” before quitting, he recalled to The Hollywood Reporter in 2016.
“I always wrote for myself,” he reflected of his career. “I figured I’m not that different from other people. If there’s a story I like a lot, there’s got to be others with similar tastes.”
Lee’s first team of heroes, whom he co-created with artist Jack Kirby, was the Fantastic Four in 1961. Following the success of the foursome, Lee and Kirby went on to create Thor, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, Black Panther and, most famously, Spider-Man in 1962. The characters would eventually team up, as well as with resurrected Timely Comics characters like Captain America, to form The Avengers.
Timely was renamed Marvel Comics, and Lee was named publisher and editorial director of the company in 1972, when he wrote his last two issues of “Fantastic Four” and “The Amazing Spider-Man.” In the 1980s, he transitioned to a brand ambassador for Marvel, leading to his famed film cameos in Marvel franchises.
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