The death of his wife, severe illness and cruel treatment: what happened to Stan Lee in the last year of his life

7 min


A series of bad events in the life of the Marvel legend was interrupted only a few months before his death.

Photo ABC

November 12, 2018, a legendary screenwriter, author of comics, creator of Spider-Man and a dozen other Marvel superheroes, 95-year-old Stan Lee, died in a Los Angeles hospital. From the beginning of the year, he struggled with pneumonia, which, judging by everything, was aggravated against the background of tragic events.

In July 2017, his wife, Joan B. Lee, died, after which the writer’s psychological state worsened. Control over his affairs is almost completely taken over by the daughter of comicist Joan Celia, as well as 42-year-old manager Keya Morgan. As it turned out, from that moment in the life of Lee began a black stripe, which was interrupted only a few months before his death.

Wife’s death and tensions with daughter

July 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, 95-year-old screenwriter Joan, died of a stroke. Having lived together for 69 years, it was she who pushed Lee to create the Fantastic Four (one of the main works of the author Marvel) and for many years replaced the manager’s spouse. As the writer’s friends recall, he never knew how to handle money and often invested it in hopeless projects.

Joan also differed prudent and pragmatic mind that helped her control not only the business of her husband, but also their daughter Joan Celia Lee. Family friends describe her as harsh and hot-tempered, who tried unsuccessfully to make an entrepreneurial career in Los Angeles. Not having her own permanent income, she perceived any financial constraints on the part of her parents aggressively, often falling apart on her father. Sometimes she called the elderly Lee several times a day, cursed and insulted him, accusing him of injustice. Despite this, the screenwriter almost always answered his daughter’s calls.

Stan Lee and his wife Joan. Getty Photos

In 2014, a family conflict turned into a scuffle. One day, Joan Celia saw a parked Jaguar car near Lee’s house and decided that it was a gift for her. When in fact it turned out that the comicist had rented a car for his wife, the daughter got angry, grabbed her mother by the hand and hit her on the glass. In response, Lee called her daughter an “ungrateful bitch” and promised to deprive her of money, after which the woman grabbed her father by the throat and hit her head on the arm of the chair next to her.

Following the conflict, Joan Lee got a bruise on her arm and a rupture of a blood vessel in her leg, and her husband was diagnosed with a head injury. The Marvel author daughter has repeatedly rejected accusations of beating her parents, but lawyer Lee provided The Hollywood Reporter with photographs of the bruises of an elderly couple and said that she did not send the case to the police only at the request of the victims.

Stan Lee with his daughter. Getty Photos

As the newspaper writes, with the death of his wife, for Lee it became even more difficult to communicate with daughter. On average, a woman spent up to 20-40 thousand dollars a month from her father’s bank account for personal needs. When the author of the comic tried to talk to her daughter about spending, she began to scream and swear at him until the moment when he did agree with her demands. At about the same time, in the summer of 2017, 68-year-old Joan Celia hired her friend, Keya Morgan, to help her father in business matters. He will play a significant role in the final months of Lee’s life.

The disappearance of savings and bouts of pneumonia

In December 2017, Jerry Olivares, who met Lee in 2010 and was mainly involved in the schedule of his visits to the doctor, was suspected of financial fraud. With the filing of Joan Celia, Keya Morgan took the position of scriptwriter manager and accused Olivares of forging Lee’s check for $300,000, as well as buying a house worth $850,000 at the expense of the screenwriter.

Two months later, the comic book author reported that $1.4 million had disappeared from his bank account. The funds have not been found. At the same time, Lee again started having health problems–due to heart problems and pneumonia, he canceled several activities with his participation, but nevertheless he stayed in the hospital only for the night and returned home. To appease the fans, he recorded a video message, where he wished them health and expressed his gratitude.

I always think about my fans and I hope you are doing well. I miss you all. I miss your activity, all the notes, photos and emails I received. I still get them. And I want you to know that I love you all. I think that I, Spidey and Marvel have the best fan group in the world.
Stan Lee
author of numerous comics Marvel

In addition to pneumonia, from 2016, Li suffered a serious eye problem. The author of Marvel almost did not distinguish the fine print and had difficulty reading personal mail, not to mention his own comic book collection.

Charges of Sexual Harassment

In January 2018, when more than a million dollars disappeared from Lee’s account and he began to suffer from pneumonia, a group of personal nurses comics accused him of harassment. According to young girls, the 95-year-old widower demanded oral sex from them, molested and walked around the house naked. Against the background of the scandal, the medical company that provided home nursing services broke a contract with Lee.

Stan Lee with the nurses. Backgrid Photo

An unnamed source of the Daily Mail tabloid confirmed that the elderly Lee jokingly “harassed all the nurses in his house.” The interlocutor of the publication added that the author of Marvel “lost his way” and does not pay attention to what other people think about him. Lee denied all the charges, suggesting that in this way the attackers extort money from him. None of the parties to the conflict appealed to the police or to the court.

In April 2018, the masseuse Maria Carballo filed a lawsuit against Lee for sexual harassment. According to the girl, during two sessions in 2017, a 94-year-old man “satisfied himself” in her presence and molested her, inclining to joint masturbation. According to court documents, the plaintiff demanded that the scriptwriter pay 50 thousand dollars in moral damage. It is not known whether the process will continue after the death of the defendant.

Home Prison and Threats

On February 13, 2018, together with his friend and lawyer Tom Lallas, Lee wrote a statement saying that his daughter fell under the influence of three men. It was about Jerry Olivares, who was already fired at that time, attorney of Joan Celia Kirk Schenck and Keya Morgan. They, the document said, want his daughter to gain access to the state of a screenwriter, estimated at 50-70 million dollars.

The Hollywood Reporter Publication, through its sources, received a notarized copy of the statement signed by Lee and his lawyer, initiating an investigation. In the course of it, various interlocutors of the publication told about the cruel treatment of the legend of Marvel. For example, during his work in 2017, Morgan fired almost the entire previous business team of an older author, and also restricted access to him for friends and relatives. The new manager changed the employer’s mobile number and began to look through all his letters, since, according to Morgan, he could not cope with this himself.

Stan Lee and Keya Morgan. Photo Getty

Three days after the document was reassured, Lee for some unknown reason recalled it. On the same day, police raided the author’s house and arrested long-time bodyguard of comic book author Max Anderson. According to Joan Celia, the guard threatened her and her father, and after being fired, he refused to voluntarily leave. Shortly thereafter, the woman fired Tom Lallas, who helped Lee make a statement, explaining that he “should not be trusted.”

An investigation into The Hollywood Reporter was released in April 2018, but even before publication, Morgan learned that journalists had received a copy of the scriptwriter’s statement. After that, he asked Lee to record a video message, where he stated that the information in the document was false. However, the fired lawyer Lallas insists that he personally assured each of his words with Lee.

After the dismissal of Anderson and Lallas, actual control over the business status and property of Lee remained with his daughter and manager Morgan. In a conversation with the press, they repeatedly rejected all the accusations of total control of the author of Marvel. “[Lee] is my good friend and almost father. There are all kinds of assholes who are very jealous that Stan Lee likes me so much,” Morgan argued in March 2018.

The Los Angeles police came to the superhero–in June it suspected Keya Morgan of abusing his position and setting total control over Lee’s property. By that time, the manager had relocated the employer from his own home and restricted access to his friends and relatives.

Against the background of the proceedings, Joan Celia dismissed the manager, and in August the local court forbade him to approach the screenwriter for three years because of suspicions of fraud, abuse of authority and embezzlement of five million dollars of her boss. Morgan denied all charges and said that his daughter was trying to establish real control over the property of an elderly millionaire.

House of Lee in Hollywood, located next to the cottage of actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Photos The Hollywood Reporter

A few days after the trial, Lee gave a joint interview with his daughter, where he expressed a lack of understanding about the scandal that had taken place and sided with the relative. “Not so dramatic. In my opinion, we have a wonderful life. I’m a damn lucky man. I love my daughter. I hope she loves me, but more is not necessary for a good life. If only my wife was with us.”

Lee affirmed that a business relationship with Morgan led to a “disappointment”, but this did not affect the relationship with her daughter who hired Morgan. He also assured that there is no disagreement in the family about finances. “The money will remain for her, and instead of waiting for my death, I will give her as much as she needs now,” the comic-booker promised.

In the final interview, which unwittingly became the last big one with Stan Lee, he said that he feels comfortable among friends and business assistants. To the question of whether he was sure of the safety of his heritage, the author of Marvel answered briefly: “Absolutely.” Quickly tired and sometimes difficult to talk to, he spent the night before the interview in his room, working on another project. Like almost all 95 years of life.

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