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Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber December 28, 1922 – November 12, 2018) was an American comic book writer, editor, publisher, and producer. He rose through the ranks of a family-run business to become Marvel Comics' primary creative leader for two decades, leading its expansion from a small division of a publishing house to a multimedia corporation that dominated the comics industry. In collaboration with others at Marvel—particularly co-writer/artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko—he co-created numerous popular fictional characters, including superheroes Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man. The superheroes he created seemed more meaningful and realistic. In doing so, he pioneered a more naturalistic approach to writing superhero comics in the 1960s, and in the 1970s he challenged the restrictions of the Comics Code Authority, indirectly leading to changes in its policies. In the 1980s he pursued the development of Marvel properties in other media, with mixed results. Following his retirement from Marvel in the 1990s, he remained a public figurehead for the company, and frequently made cameo appearances in films and television shows based on Marvel characters, on which he received an executive producer credit. Meanwhile, he continued independent creative ventures into his 90s, until his death in 2018. Lee was inducted into the comic book industry's Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995. He received the NEA's National Medal of Arts in 2008. Stanley Martin Lieber was born on December 28, 1922, in Manhattan, New York City, in the apartment of his Romanian-born Jewish immigrant parents, Celia (née Solomon) and Jack Lieber, at the corner of West 98th Street and West End Avenue in Manhattan. Though raised in a Jewish household, in a 2002 interview, he stated when asked if he believed in God, "Well, let me put it this way... No, I'm not going to try to be clever. I really don't know. I just don't know." His father, trained as a dress cutter, worked only sporadically after the Great Depression, and the family moved further uptown to Fort Washington Avenue, in Washington Heights, Manhattan. Lee had one younger brother named Larry Lieber. He said in 2006 that as a child he was influenced by books and movies, particularly those with Errol Flynn playing heroic roles. By the time Lee was in his teens, the family was living in an apartment at 1720 University Avenue in The Bronx. Lee described it as "a third-floor apartment facing out back". Lee and his brother shared the bedroom, while their parents slept on a foldout couch. Lee attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. In his youth, Lee enjoyed writing and entertained dreams of writing the "Great American Novel" one day. He said that in his youth he worked such part-time jobs as writing obituaries for a news service and press releases for the National Tuberculosis Center; delivering sandwiches for the Jack May pharmacy to offices in Rockefeller Center; working as an office boy for a trouser manufacturer; ushering at the Rivoli Theater on Broadway; and selling subscriptions to the New York Herald Tribune newspaper. At fifteen, Lee entered a high school essay competition sponsored by the New York Herald Tribune, called "The Biggest News of the Week Contest." Lee claimed to have won the prize for three straight weeks, goading the newspaper to write him and ask him to let someone else win. The paper suggested he look into writing professionally, which Lee claimed "probably changed my life." He graduated from high school early, aged sixteen and a half, in 1939 and joined the WPA Federal Theatre Project. From 1945 to 1947, Lee lived in the rented top floor of a brownstone in the East 90s in Manhattan. He married Joan Clayton Boocock, originally from Newcastle, England, on December 5, 1947, and in 1949, the couple bought a house in Woodmere, New York, on Long Island, living there through 1952. Their daughter Joan Celia "J. C." Lee was born in 1950. Another daughter, Jan Lee, died a few days after her birth in 1953. The Lees resided in the Long Island town of Hewlett Harbor, New York, from 1952 to 1980. They also owned a condominium on East 63rd Street in Manhattan from 1975 to 1980, and during the 1970s owned a vacation home in Remsenburg, New York. For their move to the West Coast in 1981, they bought a home in West Hollywood, California, previously owned by comedian Jack Benny's radio announcer Don Wilson. The Stan Lee Foundation was founded in 2010 to focus on literacy, education, and the arts. Its stated goals include supporting programs and ideas that improve access to literacy resources, as well as promoting diversity, national literacy, culture and the arts. Lee donated portions of his personal effects to the University of Wyoming at various times, between 1981 and 2001. In September 2012, Lee underwent an operation to insert a pacemaker, which required cancelling planned appearances at conventions. Lee eventually retired from convention appearances by 2017. On July 6, 2017, his wife of 69 years, Joan, died of complications from a stroke. She was 95 years old. Lee died on November 12, 2018, six weeks before his 96th birthday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, after being rushed there in a medical emergency earlier in the day. Earlier that year, Lee revealed to the public that he had been battling pneumonia and in February was rushed to the hospital for worsening conditions at around the same time. The immediate cause of death listed on his death certificate was cardiac arrest with respiratory failure and congestive heart failure as underlying causes. It also indicated that he suffered from "aspiration pneumonia." His body was cremated and his ashes were given to his daughter. Roy Thomas, who succeeded Lee as editor-in-chief at Marvel, had visited Lee two days prior to his death to discuss the upcoming book The Stan Lee Story, and stated "I think he was ready to go. But he was still talking about doing more cameos. As long as he had the energy for it and didn't have to travel, Stan was always up to do some more cameos. He got a kick out of those more than anything else."
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