On This Day: Stan Lee passes away, aged 95

Stan Lee was well known for his creative work on the Marvel Comics series.

Flowers and mementos are pictured on the star of late Marvel Comics co-creator Stan Lee on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 12, 2018.  (photo credit: MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)
Flowers and mementos are pictured on the star of late Marvel Comics co-creator Stan Lee on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 12, 2018.
(photo credit: MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)

On November 12, 2018, Stan Lee died at the age of 95.

Lee was born in 1922 to a Jewish Romanian family in Manhattan, and his given name was Stanley Martin Lieber. 

In his youth, Lee enjoyed writing so much that when he was 15, he entered a weekly newspaper competition three weeks in a row and won all three times, forcing the newspaper to write to him and ask him to let someone else win and encouraging him to write professionally.

In 1939, Lee became an assistant at Timely Comics, which would later come to be known as Marvel Comics, with the help of his uncle. He made his comic-book debut two years later with Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge.

At the end of 1941, the editors left the company, and the publisher, Martin Goodman, appointed Lee as interim editor. He was only 19 years old. He was so good at the job, that he was made editor-in-chief and art director, and he remained in these roles until he took over from Goodman as publisher.

The Marvel's Spider-Man booth is seen at the Paris Games Week (PGW), a trade fair for video games in Paris, France, October 25, 2018 (credit: BENOIT TESSIER /REUTERS)The Marvel's Spider-Man booth is seen at the Paris Games Week (PGW), a trade fair for video games in Paris, France, October 25, 2018 (credit: BENOIT TESSIER /REUTERS)

In 1942, Lee joined the US Army. While he was serving he would get letters from Timely Comics every Friday telling him what they needed written, and he would write what he was asked for and mail it back on Monday.

In the mid-50's, Lee was becoming dissatisfied with his career and was considering leaving. Around the same time, DC Comics was gaining popularity with their revival of the Flash and their creation of the Justice League of America. Wanting to beat the competition, Goodman asked Lee to come up with a new superhero team for their company, and Lee's wife recommended that he experiment with the kind of stories he wanted to read.

Lee listened to this advice and created superheroes who were flawed and human, which was a departure from the typical superheroes of the time that were perfect and idealistic.

Together with Jack Kirby, Lee created the Fantastic Four, which was met with immediate popularity. Following their success, Lee and Kirby invented the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, the X-Men, Daredevil, Doctor Strange and Spiderman. Some of the new characters were joined together to form the Avengers together with some characters who were revived from the 40's like Captain America.

In the 60's, Lee did a lot of work for the Marvel series as well as writing a column called Stan's Soapbox which he often signed off with his trademark motto, Excelsior!

In later years, Lee acted as executive producer for Marvel films and TV shows, and he was famous for making cameo appearances in almost every Marvel movie until he died. His last appearance was in Avengers: Endgame.