Stan Lee, Marvel superheroes creator, dies at 95

Stan Lee, pictured in 2011. Photo courtesy LuigiNovi via Wikipedia.

The mastermind behind the Marvel Comics superhero roster has passed away.

Stan Lee, co-creator of the Marvel empire, died Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. According to TMZ, Lee’s daughter said that her father was ill at his Hollywood Hills home and rushed to hospital earlier Monday morning. The death was confirmed to the BBC by the family’s lawyer.

Lee would have turned 96 on December 28.

Lee had worked as a comic-book writer and editor, before becoming editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics and later its publisher. He had also done some acting work and had been an executive producer on a series of Marvel-themed films.

Born Stanley Lieber in New York in 1922 to Romanian Jewish parents, he had begun his career as a journalist, writing obituaries for a local news service and later press releases for a non-profit. He graduated from high school at 16, and his uncle helped secure a job for him at Marvel forerunner Timely Comics, where his first job was as a gofer for the artists there. He eventually wrote his first comic book, featuring Captain America, in 1941 under the pseudonym Stan Lee, which he would legally change his name to later. His first superhero was the Destroyer. He became an interim editor at Timely Comics at just 19, then went and served his country in the Army during the Second World War.

Upon his return from the service, the publisher at Timely asked Lee to create a superhero group similar to DC Comics’ Justice League of America. These included the Hulk, the X-Men, Daredevil, Thor, and the centrepiece of it all, Spider-Man. He became publisher of Marvel in 1972 and remained in that role until 1996.

In addition to his comic books, Lee also appeared as an actor, mostly as cameos in films based on the Marvel universe. He also served as an executive producer for many of those films.

Lee was awarded a National Medal of Arts in 2008. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011 and had had his handprints cast outside the historic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Lee was married to the former Joan Boocock from 1947 until her death last year. They had two children, one of whom died in 1953 at three-days-old.