One hundred years ago today, Stanley Martin Lieber was born in New York City. Within two decades, he’d land a job at Timely Comics, later renamed Marvel, and the rest is history.

Along the way, Stan’s work, both on and off the page, inspired millions of fans around the world.

In honor of his 100th birthday, we’ve compiled 10 defining moments and periods in Stan’s life. (We could probably name 100, but in the interest of time and space, we’ve narrowed it down to 10!)

Stan’s childhood

Growing up, Stan enjoyed going to the movies, riding his bike, reading – the same as any kid. Many of the stories he devoured in his youth, from H.G. Wells’ science fiction tales to the Jerry Todd and Poppy Ott series, inspired his later writing. A few years ago, we wrote about some of the books that stayed with Stan. Learn more about them HERE.

Aside from books, several people – some he knew and some he didn’t – influenced young Stan, too. He learned the gift of gab from a classmate, how to effectively reach people from a teacher, and the importance of answering fan letters from a world-famous war correspondent. All of these small lessons played big roles in Stan’s career; read more about them HERE.

His comicbook debut – and what a debut it was!

Stan started working at Timely Comics as a teen, and before long, he was making his mark. His comic debut came in 1941, age 18, when he penned a two-page text story in Captain America Comics #3. This also marked the entrance of his pen name, Stan Lee. (He’d change his name legally later in life.) Because this was Stan we’re talking about, that auspicious debut made history in more ways than one. Indeed, Stan’s story marked the first time Cap threw his shield in the comics (in the text only, at this point).

A common misconception is that Stan created Captain America – that would be Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Read about Cap’s creation, Stan’s text story, and the character’s 1960s revival HERE.

Becoming Timely’s editor and serving in WWII

With the departure of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in late 1941, Stan found himself promoted to Timely’s interim editor. He’d remain in the job for decades.

When the US entered WWII, Stan joined the Army, serving in the Signal Corps. Once again, he stood out: his title, playwright, was one only a handful of men were given. While in the Army, Stan continued his work for Timely, juggling various writing tasks on top of his war work. Talk about dedication! He even got in trouble one time for the way in which he secured one of his Timely assignments. Read about that tale HERE.

Wanting to quit – and making history

By the early 1960s, Stan had written and edited countless genres, including romance, Westerns, horror, humor, and of course, superheroes. Creatively, though, he felt stifled, and he didn’t want to keep chasing trends and following the crowd. In fact, Stan seriously considered quitting!

That’s where his wife Joan comes in. She urged him to write one last story the way he wanted, if that was how he felt. So, he did. When editor Martin Goodman asked Stan to craft a superhero team in the vein of DC’s latest hit, the Justice League, he and Jack Kirby delivered the Fantastic Four. And with that, the world of superheroes would never be the same again. In honor of the team’s 60th anniversary last year, we highlighted four Stan-centric FF facts. Read those HERE.

Spider-Man enters the picture

Stan found great success writing relatable characters. His heroes faced problems – financial, romance, you name it – just like those reading. In the 60s, teenage characters usually were relegated to sidekick status, but Stan once again wanted to go against the tide and did so with Peter Parker. The high schooler from Queens debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15 and dealt with two big things in that issue: a radioactive spider bite and the death of his beloved uncle. From there, he’s bloomed into a worldwide icon.

This year, we celebrated 60 years of Spidey; read more HERE.

Stan Lee as speaker-man

With the soaring popularity of Marvel Comics in the 1960s, Stan found himself as the face of the company. He formed an official fan club, the Merry Marvel Marching Society (M.M.M.S.), in 1964, which led to the establishment of club chapters on many university campuses in the US. As a result, Stan started receiving invitations to speak at schools. These appearances helped introduce new fans to Marvel and champion their latest comics far and wide.  

We wrote about Stan’s longtime stint as Speaker-Man a few years ago. Read more about his talks HERE.

Moving to Hollywood

Stan made Los Angeles his home starting in the 1980s. One of the main reasons he moved was to start Marvel Productions and bring their characters to the big and small screens. While he found it hard at the time to get movies off the ground, Marvel Productions created many hit animated shows, like Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. It would take some time before Marvel movies made it to the big screen in a big way, but Stan’s move west opened yet another door for him in the acting world that would make him very well known.  

The cameo king

In 1989, Stan made his first Marvel cameo in the TV movie The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. The following year, he hit the big screen with an appearance in The Ambulance. And of course, fans remember his bit in Kevin Smith’s 1995 feature Mallrats!

With that, a cameo king was born. When Marvel movies took the world by storm, fans loved seeing Stan pop up next to their favorite heroes. Hot dog vendor, security guard, bartender, FedEx delivery man – no matter the part, Stan relished the chance to perform alongside characters he co-created. These cameos also introduced Stan to a whole new generation of fans who first became acquainted with Marvel through the movies. And the appearances didn’t stop there – Stan turned up in TV shows, video games, and more!

Stan appeared in countless cameos, and we’ve written about them numerous times. Here’s our favorite Stan Marvel cameos, TV cameos, cameos outside Marvel, video game cameos, and comicbook cameos.

Turning a page – POW!

The early 2000s were a time of new beginnings and endeavors for Stan. A year after X-Men hit the big screen in 2000, Stan co-founded POW! Entertainment to develop and produce new superhero characters and stories. There, he blazed ahead in new mediums, releasing an internet web series with Disney, starring in two superhero reality shows, and more. The aim was still the same, even as he started creating stories with a more international flair set in India, China, Brazil, and other countries: create exciting, relatable superhero tales for fans around the world.

Status: Legendary

If you can imagine, Stan’s star just continued to get bigger and bigger as he entered his 80s and 90s. From cameos to conventions to comics to creating new international heroes to a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and everything in between, Stan solidified his cultural relevance and legend status doing what he loved during the 2000s and 2010s. “If you are interested in what you do, that keeps you going.”  Stan once said. As someone who worked for over 75 years in the same industry, Stan certainly meant it!

Thank you for being a fan of Stan The Man and celebrating his centennial with us! Excelsior!