Joan Lee, Stan’s Wife of 69 Years, Passed Away At Age 95

Reader McGruber writes: The Hollywood Reporter has the sad news that Joan Lee, the wife of Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, died Thursday in Los Angeles. She was 95. In an earlier story, Stan described meeting Joan: “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. “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.” After marrying, the couple returned to New York, where Lee worked at Marvel Comics forerunner Timely/Atlas Comics, a job he initially landed because his cousin Martin Goodman owned the company. Comics were a middling enterprise until Lee and Jack Kirby co-created the Fantastic Four in 1961 (followed by the Hulk, Avengers, Iron Man, X-Men and other characters) and turned the company, renamed Marvel Comics, into a pop culture powerhouse. In some versions of the origin of the Fantastic Four, Lee credits Joan with inspiring him. He was depressed about his career (Lee had dreams of becoming a serious novelist) and the state of comics (the industry in the 1950s was dominated by stories of war, science fiction and romance, genres he didn’t like) and contemplated leaving the business. “Before you quit,” Joan told him, “why don’t you write one comic you are proud of?” And thus was born the Fantastic Four.


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