Legendary Marvel creator Stan Lee died on November 12, 2018 from cardiac arrest brought on by respiratory and congestive heart failure, according to TMZ and People. Lee was 95-years-old at the time of his death.
His only living daughter, J.C., confirmed her father’s passing to TMZ. She described Lee as “the greatest, most decent man.” She added, “My father loved all of his fans.”
In honor of the late creative superstar, ABC is airing a special on Lee’s life this Friday, December 20 at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. CST. The special, titled Celebrating Marvel’s Stan Lee, takes viewers on an “action-packed journey throughout the life of Lee and across the Marvel Universe,” according to the network.
The hour-long special will share “never-before-seen interviews and archive footage with Lee himself from deep within the Marvel and ABC News archives.” Here’s what you need to know about the iconic, comic visionary ahead of tonight’s special:
Lee’s Death Certificate Lists Heart & Respiratory Failure as the Cause of Death
TMZ obtained Lee’s death certificate from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which lists heart failure and respiratory failure as the cause of death. It also says he suffered aspiration pneumonia – which is when you inhale food, stomach acid or saliva into your lungs, the publication reports.
According to the document, Lee died Monday, November 12 at 9:17 AM at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Lee was apparently still struggling with his case of aspiration pneumonia, but was “alert and positive” just days before his death, according to Screen Rant.
The certificate also states that he was cremated and his ashes were returned to his daughter. A private funeral was held on November 16, 2018. His POW! Entertainment company said further memorial plans were in the works, noting the “grandeur of Stan makes this a monumental task.”
He Battled Pneumonia Several Months Before His Death
Lee had been battling several illnesses over the past year leading up to his death, including vision issues and a bout of pneumonia, according to TMZ. He came down with pneumonia in February, 2018, but was recovered quickly and had been feeling well enough to reassure worried fans that he was recuperating.
“Hi, heroes. This is Stan Lee. I haven’t been in touch with you lately. I have a little bout of pneumonia I’ve been fighting, but it seems to be getting better,” he said in a video statement released on February 28. “But I want you all to know I’m thinking of you—of course, I always think of the fans—and I hope you’re all doing well, and I miss you all.”
He continued, “I miss your enthusiasm. I miss all the notes and the photos and the e-mails that I used to get, and I still get a lot of them. I want you to know that I still love you all. I think that Marvel and Spidey and I have the best group of fans that any group in the world ever had, and I sure appreciate it. Let me know how you’re doing. I hope everything is going well for you, and I hope the next time we talk, I will be in even better shape. Maybe I’ll have some of this pneumonia knocked down and we can have some real fun over the internet.”
Lee Had a Pacemaker Implanted in 2012
Back in 2012, Lee underwent surgery to have a pacemaker implanted. A pacemaker is an artificial device that is surgically inserted into the heart to help stimulate the heart muscle and regulate its contractions.
Lee, who consistently stayed in touch with his fans and frequently updated them on his health when he fell ill, released the following statement to his followers to let them know he was okay and that the surgery was a success.
“Attention, Troops! This is a dispatch sent from your beloved Generalissimo, directly from the center of Hollywood’s combat zone! Now hear this! Your leader hath not deserted thee! In an effort to be more like my fellow Avenger, Tony Stark, I have had an electronic pace-maker placed near my heart to [ensure] that I’ll be able to lead thee for another 90 years. But fear thee not, my valiant warriors. I am in constant touch with our commanders in the field and victory shall soon be ours. Now I must end this dispatch and join my troops, for an army without a leader is like a day without a cameo!”
Lee Lost His Wife of Nearly 70 Years Shortly Before His Own Death
Lee lost his longtime wife, Joan B. Lee, shortly before his own death in 2018. Joan died in July, 2017 after suffering a stroke which landed her in the hospital, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The couple was married for 69 years until Joan’s death; Lee called her “the perfect wife.”
Lee talked to THR in 2016 about how he first met his wife in the 1940s. He recalled, “When I was young, 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. And when I got out of the Army, somebody, a cousin of mine, knew a model, a hat model at a place called Laden Hats. He said, ‘Stan, there’s this really pretty girl named Betty. I think you’d like her. She might like you. Why don’t you go over and ask her to lunch.’ Blah, blah, blah.”
He continued, “So I went up to this place. Betty didn’t answer the door. But Joan answered, and she was the head model. I took one look at her — and she was the girl I had been drawing all my life. And then I heard the English accent. And I’m a nut for English accents! She said, ‘May I help you?’ And I took a look at her, and I think I said something crazy like, ‘I love you.’ I don’t remember exactly. But anyway, I took her to lunch. I never met Betty, the other girl. I think I proposed to [Joan] at lunch.”
ABC’s Special Will Celebrate Lee’s Life & Legacy
Lee will forever be credited as the person who created and co-created some of the most popular and beloved comic book heroes in history, including Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Hulk, Thor, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and many, many more. He and business partner Jack Kirby launched Marvel Comics in 1961.
ABC’s special on Lee will celebrate his life, legacy and the lasting impressions the prolific comic creator left on the world.
“As a young man, Stan ‘The Man’ Lee always dreamed of writing, going on to create some of the greatest heroes of our modern times,” Joe Quesada, executive vice president, creative director of Marvel Entertainment, told ABC. “Stan showed each of us how to be a hero in our everyday lives, and the stories he wrote will go on to influence generations of fans for decades to come. We can’t wait for all you True Believers out there to see this special to honor and celebrate Stan’s incredible life and all the lives he has touched.”
Tune in tonight, December 20 at 8 p.m. EST to catch the ABC special Celebrating Marvel’s Stan Lee. In the meantime, check out this author’s profile for more entertainment news and TV coverage.