Terrible news has struck two of genre entertainment’s most formidable and beloved talents as the wives of both Marvel Comics titan Stan Lee and director David Cronenberg have passed away.
Stan Lee’s wife of 69 years, Joan Lee, died on Thursday (July 6) in Los Angeles at the age of 93, according to Variety. Joan had reportedly been hospitalized earlier this week after suffering a stroke. A spokesperson for the family said in a statement, “I can confirm the sad news that Joan Lee passed away this morning quietly and surrounded by her family. The family ask that you please give them time to grieve and respect their privacy during this difficult time.”
A one-time hat model, Joan married Stan on December 5, 1947. They met almost by accident when Stan showed up to take Joan’s friend on a blind date — and ended up falling instantly for Joan instead. Joan had already married — unhappily — an American soldier on an impulse a few years earlier. She got divorced in Reno with Stan waiting in the room next door to marry her.
Together, they had two children: Joan Celia (J.C.), born in 1950, and Jan, who died three days after her birth in 1953.
The couple lived in New York City for decades, while Stan began what would become a storied career at Timely/Atlas Comics, which later changed to Marvel Comics. Dissatisfied for several years there, Stan was encouraged by Joan to create one last comic book before quitting — that project was the Fantastic Four, which he created in 1961 with artist Jack Kirby and which changed the course of pop culture history.
Stan, with artists like Kirby, Steve Ditko and Bill Everett, went on to originate characters like Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Iron Man and countless others. He and Joan moved to California in 1981 so he could develop Marvel properties for TV and film, while Joan did voice work on the 1990’s animated Marvel shows Fantastic Four and Spider-Man as Miss Forbes and Madame Web respectively. She also had a role in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse.
Joan Lee also authored a novel, The Pleasure Palace, in 1987 and reportedly had three other unfinished novels in her files.
Meanwhile, filmmaker David Cronenberg’s wife Carolyn passed away on June 19 at the age of 66, with the news only becoming public this week. According to the Hollywood Reporter, she passed away at home in Toronto after an undisclosed illness.
A statement issued by the family said that Carolyn was “caring, kind, compassionate, loving, and by far the best person any of us has ever known.”
Carolyn and David met when she worked as a production assistant on one of his early horror films, Rabid. They married in 1979. A filmmaker and editor herself, she had editing credits on several of her husband’s pictures, including The Brood. She later directed Acts of Violence, a 2006 documentary about David’s film A History of Violence, and a short film called Too Commercial for Cannes, about her husband bringing A History of Violence to the Cannes Film Festival.
Carolyn is survived by David, their son Brandon and daughter Caitlin, and Cassandra, a daughter from David Cronenberg’s first marriage to Margaret Hindson.
Den of Geek sends its deepest condolences to both men and their families.