Marvel Comics Legend Stan Lee’s Wife, Joan Lee, has Died at 93
“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 said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “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.
Joan Lee was a former British hat model. She married Stan Lee on December 5, 1947. If you ask anyone who knows Stan, the two were hopelessly devoted to each other. Our own Jenna Busch, who hosted Cocktails with Stan a few years ago, recalls that he always talked about Joan in between shoots, and how wonderful she was.
Stan and Joan had two children, J.C. (Joan Celia) and Jan, who died three days after her birth 1953.
Last year, Lee recounted to THR how he met 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.”
Joan was unhappily married to her first husband when she and Stan first met. However, she made quick work to file for divorce and marry the future comic book legend anyway.
In some versions of how the Fantastic Four comic series came to be, Stan credits Joan for inspiring him. He was deeply unhappy over the state of the comic book industry (comics in the 1950s were dominated by stories of war, science fiction, and romance — genres he didn’t care for). So much so that he contemplated leaving the business altogether.
“Before you quit,” Joan told him, “why don’t you write one comic you are proud of?” And so the Fantastic Four family was born.
In the 1990s, Joan lent her voice in two animated Marvel cartoons, Fantastic Four (as Miss Forbes) and Spider-Man (as Madame Web). She also made a cameo appearance with Stan in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse.