Stan Lees marriage – Spider-Man inspiration, whirlwind romance and loss

Marvel legend Stanley Lieber, otherwise known as Stan Lee, was the creator of some of the biggest comic characters of all time and would have been 99 years old this week.

Born on December 28 1922, Stan gave the world icons such as Spider Man, Thor, X-Men and The Incredible Hulk, as well as making a number of humourous cameos in the blockbuster Marvel film series in recent years.

However, he always credited that one of his biggest inspirations behind the characters was his wife Joan Boocock Lee, with who he had a marriage spanning nearly 70 years.

After their unexpected meeting and whirlwind romance, Joan was also the inspiration behind one of Spider Man's most legendary characters.

'Dream woman'

In 1947, Stan Lee's cousin suggested that he visit a hat shop where a 'gorgeous redhead' worked, and who he thought Stan would be head over heels for.

However as fate would have it, when Stan visited the hat shop, it was actually a hat model called Joan Clayton Boocock who answered the door.

It is reported that Stan took one look at Joan and declared his love for her, as she resembled the dream woman that he grew up drawing, telling the Hollywood Reporter: "There was one girl that I drew.

"One body and face and hair. It was my idea of what a girl should be. The perfect woman."

He added that when he saw Joan in real life, he knew that she was the one, adding: "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."

Whirlwind marriage

After taking Joan for lunch and embarking on a brief two week romance, a love struck Stan Lee proposed to Joan. However there was one problem – Joan was already married.

Talking about her first husband, Joan Lee told People magazine: "I had only known him 24 hours when we decided to get married," adding: "after living with him a year I was finding him sort of boring…"

However, Joan described Stan Lee as "thrilling" and that "he reminded me of that beautiful man, Leslie Howard."

Soon after Stan Lee proposed to Joan, the couple were married by the judge who had granted Joan's divorce in December 1947 in New York.

Their marriage spanned nearly 70 years, until Joan's death from a stroke at the age of 93 on July 6 2017.

Stan Lee died one year later on November 12 2018 from heart and respiratory failure.

Spiderman 'Mary Jane' inspiration

Not only had Joan resembled the woman that Stan Lee said he grew up drawing, she was also the inspiration for Spiderman Peter Parker's first love – Mary Jane Watson.

Talking to Chronicle Live, Stan also credited Joan with being the inspiration behind some of his biggest work, including The Fantastic Four and X-Men, whose characters lived in the real world and that readers could relate to.

He said: "I was doing the books exactly the way my publisher wanted me to do them, and I wanted to keep my job and earn a living."

“But after a while I really got sick of it and wanted to quit.

"This was when my wife said, ‘Why don’t you do some stories as you would like to do them. The worst that could happen is that he’ll fire you, and you want to quit anyway."

Not only did she help to inspire Stan and some of Marvel's biggest characters, but like her husband, she also made cameos in blockbuster films such as X-Men Apocalypse.

She also lent her voice to some of the characters, including Madame Web in the animated Spider Man series from 1996-1998, and Miss Forbes in the 1994 animated Fantastic Four series.

After Joan died, Marvel boss Joe Quesada also paid tribute to her, saying in a statement that there would be no Marvel universe without her.

"While most of the world may simply remember Joan as Stan’s beloved wife, for all of us here at Marvel, for every kid who has opened one of our comics, watched our cartoons, TV shows and movies, for those who have fantasized about swinging on a web between the skyscrapers of New York City —the truth is that there would be no Marvel Universe without Joan Lee. She was its big bang."

Family life and famous daughter

After marrying, the couple lived in Long Island for 19 years, before moving to New York.

Talking about their family life at home, Stan revealed that while he would spend a lot of time writing and Joan loved to decorate their home, every night they would make time to watch a tv show while eating dinner, saying to People Magazine: "That to me is one of the nicest parts of the day.

"Of course we argue about what to watch. But we eventually work it out.”

While living in Long Island, Stan and Joan Lee had two daughters, with Joan 'JC' Lee being born three years after their marriage in 1950.

However, their second daughter Jan died three days after she was born in 1953.

JC became a successful actress and model, appearing in films including The Cool World and The Ambulance.

However, she also followed in her parent's footsteps and worked closely with her father at Marvel, having grown up inspired by his work creating characters such as The Incredible Hulk and Spider Man.

Like her mother, she also lent her voice to the Marvel animated series, including voicing a robot in the 1994 animated Iron Man series.

Following Stan Lee's death, JC released a statement paying tribute to her father, saying: "My father loved all of his fans. He was the greatest, most decent man."

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