Both Marvel and DC Entertainment have released statements offering their condolences to comics legend Stan Lee, who lost his wife today.
"We are so saddened to hear about the loss of Joan Lee," said Marvel in a statement on Instagram. "We lost a member of the Marvel family today and our thoughts and prayers go out to Stan and his daughter Joan in this difficult time."
DC went slightly more personal with their message, attributed to DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson.
“Of all the great stories Stan Lee has to tel, the most touching of all is the day he met Joan, the British model who would become his future wife,” said Nelson in a statement. “Instantly smitten, Stan proposed the first day of their meeting, beginning a beautiful, enviable life together for nearly seven decades. Everyone at DC is truly saddened to hear of the passing of Joan Lee and our hearts go out to Stan and his family in this time of loss.”
"I can confirm the sad news that Joan Lee passed away this morning quietly and surrounded by her family," a spokesperson for Stan Lee and his family told The Hollywood Reporter earlier today. "The family ask that you please give them time to grieve and respect their privacy during this difficult time."
According to sources, Joan Lee suffered a stroke earlier this week and was hospitalized. The former British model married Stan Lee back in December 1947. Reports say the pair instantly fell in love, and they had two children together. J.C (Joan Celia) was born in 1950 while Jan was born in 1953. Sadly, their second child passed away shortly after being born.
Last year, Stan Lee spoke with The Hollywood Reporter and recounted how he met his wife. Joan moved to New York during World War II after marrying an American soldier after her childhood sweetheart wed someone else. Joan was unhappy with her new situation, and Lee said his cousin wanted to try and set him up with someone. The family member had a model named Betty in mind, but Lee wound up meeting Joan instead.
"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.”
Joan was able to get a divorce from her current husband by moving to Nevada. At that time, the state was more lenient with divorce grants, but Joan was able to pursue her love for Stan Lee. An hour after being granted a divorce, Joan and Stan married. The couple then returned to New York where Stan continued his work with Timely/Atlas Comics, and Joan continued to be an avid supporter of her husband’s work in the coming decades.
In fact, Joan appears to have been Stan’s inspiration for the Fantastic Four. The writer credits his wife with giving him the motivation to write when he was almost determined to quit the business. "Before you quit," Joan told him, "why don’t you write one comic you are proud of?" And, as Marvel fans now know, the Fantastic Four were brought to life.
Our thoughts are with Stan Lee and his family at this time.