It is with great sadness to report that Joan Lee, wife of comic book legend Stan Lee, passed away yesterday due to complications from a stroke. She was 93 years old. She is survived by her husband and their daughter.
Last year, Stan Lee spoke recounted how he met his wife with The Hollywood Reporter. Joan had moved to New York during World War II after marrying an American soldier after her childhood sweetheart ended up marrying another woman, but was unhappy with her marriage. Lee’s cousin wanted to try and set him up with a hat model named Betty, 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 later moved to Nevada, where she was able to get a divorce. An hour later, she and Lee were married. Lee returned to his job at Timely/Atlas Comics which would later evolve into Marvel Comics and his career would become the stuff of legends. Joan was a staunch supporter of her husband, even pushing him to create what would eventually become the Fantastic Four.
Our deepest condolences to the Lee family. Joan, you will be missed and cherished.