- Stan Lee, the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics, died on Monday at 95.
- He had reportedly been rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Los Angeles, where he died.
Stan Lee, the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics, died on Monday. He was 95.
TMZ reported that he was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California on Monday morning. NBC News later confirmed with Lee’s representative, Dawn Miller, that the Marvel icon had died.
Lee’s daughter, Joan Celia Lee, told TMZ: “My father loved all of his fans. He was the greatest, most decent man.”
Information about his health has been scant over the years, but he said in February that he had pneumonia.
Born Stanley Martin Lieber, Lee was living in New York when he got into comics at 17. Thanks to a cousin whose husband owned a publishing company, Lee started at Timely Comics, later known as Atlas, where he ran errands and helped around the office. Lee soon contributed writing to an issue of “Captain America,” and by 19 he was made editor-in-chief.
After a time of disenchantment in the comic world, Lee and the artist Jack Kirby found a smash hit with the introduction of “The Fantastic Four” in 1961. That year, Atlas was rebranded to Marvel, and the company took off, on its way to establishing a legacy. Lee and Kirby would go on to create iconic characters – including Hulk, Thor, and the X-Men – as well as form the Avengers, while Lee and Steve Ditko created Spider-Man.
Marvel surpassed DC Comics as the top comic book company by 1967, and Lee was made publisher in 1972. Less than 10 years later, Lee was off to California to try to bring more comics to screens both big and small. He also briefly served as Marvel’s president.
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Though he was initially met with skepticism, Lee didn’t back down.
Marvel Studios, initially called Marvel Films, struggled at the start but found success with the early-2000s hits “X-Men” and “Spider-Man.”
2008’s “Iron Man” shot the franchise to even more success. The next year, Disney acquired Marvel and launched the comics into a multibillion-dollar film franchise.
Lee made it a tradition to appear in Marvel shows and movies, making more than 50 cameos in Marvel projects throughout his life.
But around the time the films were taking off, Lee was facing trouble in the company. In 1998, his contract was voided because of bankruptcy proceedings, and he reached an agreement to be a figurehead for the company.
He went on to form Stan Lee Media, but legal issues with partners followed, as well as another bankruptcy. He founded another media company, POW! (Purveyors of Wonder) Entertainment, in 2001.
Lee married Joan Clayton Boocock, an English hat model, in December 1947 after a few short weeks of knowing each other.
Joan was already married to an American soldier, and Stan was supposed to be going on a date with another girl named Betty. But when he knocked on the door and Joan answered, it was love at first sight.
“Any kid who draws, if he’s a guy and he isn’t gay, he draws beautiful women,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016. “There was one girl I drew: one body and face and hair. It was my idea of what a girl should be. The perfect woman … I took one look at [Joan]. She was the girl I had been drawing all my life. She said, ‘May I help you?’ I think I said ‘I love you.’ I proposed to her at lunch.”
After learning that you could get a divorce in Nevada after six weeks, Joan left for Reno. Stan later received a letter from her addressed to “Jack,” so he went to Nevada to see what was happening.
An hour after Joan’s divorce went through, the same judge married the couple, and they soon returned to New York City.
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Joan died in July 2017 at 95 after a stroke. The pair had been together for 69 years.
Toward the end of his life, Stan Lee was plagued by legal and monetary issues. More than $1 million reportedly went missing from his bank accounts, including about $850,000 used to purchase a condo in West Hollywood. Police began investigating a check as forgery after it was labeled as a loan, TMZ reported in December.
Police were called to Lee’s home in February about a disturbance involving Mac “Max” Anderson, Lee’s former bodyguard, who Lee said would not leave the property, according to TMZ.
The Hollywood Reporter in April detailed allegations that Lee’s daughter was spending thousands of his dollars and was abusive toward her parents.
Lee denied the allegations against his daughter, telling the Daily Beast in October: “She is a wonderful daughter. I like her. We have occasional spats. But I have occasional spats with everyone.”
He is survived by his daughter and a younger brother, Lawrence Lieber.
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