Do you know who Joan Celia Lee is?
Imagine growing up with SpiderMan? Well that is something that only Joan Celia ‘JC’ Lee can stake a claim to. JC is an American actress, artist and producer in her own right, although she has gained fame through the work and life of her father, the much loved and iconic Marvel comic book president, chairman, creator, producer, publisher and actor, the late Stan Lee.
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JC has always been Stan’s greatest admirer. She worked alongside him over the years, and has now entered the world of publishing comics. Her greatest wish is to continue her father’s legacy. Stan Lee had often said that his “greatest creation is his daughter”, that she is a “super kid”, and JC is known as “the girl who grew up with Spider-Man”.
She cherishes and proudly holds onto these epithets and throughout all her publicity channels, never hesitates to remind people of this. JC has recently published “Stan Lee’s Love Story” – a behind-the-scenes personal family photo memoir of the Lee’s family life – and “A Little Faith”, a limited edition comic book series. She currently tours the states promoting the books and keeping Stan Lee’s memory alive.
Growing up as Stan Lee’s daughter
JC is now 69 years old, born in New York City in April 1950. Her father, Stan Lee (28th December 1922 to 12th November, 2018) was born Stanley Martin Lieber, his parents being Jewish Romanian immigrants. Her mother, Joan Boocock Lee (5th February 1922 to 6th July, 2017) was born in Newcastle, Britain and was a well-known hat model.
She moved to America with her first husband, but after she married Stan, she did voice-overs and some acting in Marvel movies, and became a writer. The couple also had another daughter, Jan Lee, who died soon after birth in 1953.
The love and life of JC Lee’s parents – Stan Lee and Joan Boocock
Stan Lee, sometimes known as “Stan the Man”, is an iconic personality whose first job at Timely Comics set him on an unexpected road to creating highly popular superhero comics. The first two-page comic he wrote was “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge.”
The comics were illustrated and written by various collaborators and expanded to hit the circuit as animated or live movies, film serials and feature films such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, the X-Men, Captain America, Iron Man, The Avengers, Thor, Hulk, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange etc.
Stan often played a cameo role in the movies, and humbly declared, “I’m proudest of the fact that maybe some of the things I’ve done have entertained people!” When Stan was 25, Lee’s cousin set up a blind date for him. He arrived at the modeling agency, but instead of his supposed date, Joan opened the door.
Apparently it was love at first sight for Stan, and he soon expressed his love for her, telling her that he had been drawing her face for years. Joan was married at the time, but she had her first marriage promptly annulled, and two months later that she married Stan on the same day of the annulment, 5th December 1947 in the neighboring room.
Joan has been credited as the inspiration for the “Fantastic Four”, and she had a voice role in the movie, as well as in “Spider Man”. She also appeared in “Mutants, Monsters & Marvels” in 2002 and in 2003 in “Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked”. Joan wrote her first novel, “The Pleasure Palace” in 1987. JC said that her mother had left her two unpublished novels to finish.
When Joan passed away at the age of 95, the couple had been married for almost 70 years.
JC Lee’s life, love and career
JC says that she had a happy childhood – her mother, Joan, coined it a “whacko, wonderful, exciting life … but it was all about love”. Not much is known about JC’s education, but she was inspired by her father and did comic books and paste-ups in his studio from an early age. In an interview at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con, where she was manning the “Stan Lee Forever” stand, she spoke about her life, singing and dancing in the theatre, and expressed a great love for theatre and choreography. JC attended film school, followed by the School of Visual Arts.
She became an interviewer for a cable network and aside from interviewing many celebrities, JC interviewed her father on video several times, which no doubt would have been worth a fortune now had the videos not being lost in a fire, the result of arson when his first studio in Los Angeles was burnt down.
JC made her acting debut in the 1963 film “The Cool World”. She played a small role in “The Ambulance” (1990), as did Stan. Her voice was used in the 1994 animated film, Iron Man and she acted in an episode of the TV series “No Actor Parking” in 2017. Between 2016 and 2018, JC appeared in the Sidewalks Entertainment variety television series.
JC teamed up with Becky Wanta and Alain Nguyen of Social Media Applications, and in 2015 was acknowledged with the title Honorary Chairman for the creation and promotion of the app, “Raising My Superkids”. This is a free mobile social media game, which raises awareness and funds for charities, and in which players choose their own Superkid character, and create stories through the Superkid’s life.
JC, with her light ash blonde hair and hazel eyes, has been described as being attractive at 5’5” tall (165cm) and a weight of around 110 lbs (50 kgs), but she has never been married, nor had children and there is no public knowledge of her love life over the years.
JC is a dog-lover, and her hobbies are to read books, design, paint, write prose and sing. Apart from touring the West Coast to give back to Stan’s fans, JC runs a company called Fatsalagata, which is the vehicle through which she promotes the comic books and branded Excelsior caps. It appears that she only joined Facebook and Twitter in 2016, but has not posted to her pages since 2017. She also has an inactive Instagram account.
Stan Lee was worth $50 million when he passed away, and it is estimated that JC Lee is worth about $25 million as of early 2020.
JC urges people to: “Do what you love. People will tell you no. People just compete – they don’t complete. Just do it. It’s all about love!”
Keeping it in the family
JC’s uncle, Stan’s younger brother Lawrence (Larry) Lieber, joined Timely Comics in the early days. He started off with the desire to be an artist, but he drew slowly and Stan saw his brother’s potential rather as a writer. Larry became the editor in 1941. The company later became Atlas Comics and then Marvel Comics in 1961, the year of the Fantastic Four and the superhero era. In 2009, Marvel Entertainment, the group’s global parent company, was acquired by The Walt Disney Company. JC, her parents and Larry Leiber all appeared in the 2010 documentary, “With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story”.
Bad press, rumors and shady deals
It seems that popular personae cannot escape bad press and defamatory comments.
At one stage, there were rumors that Lee abused her parents, and excessively spent their money, which they all denied.
Shortly after Stan’s death, apart from the incredible number of positive reactions, there were also some negative rumblings concerning the failure of the business venture POW, featuring the not-so-kosher concept of Striperella, and claiming he sexually harassed his nurses. JC was not interested in delving into the allegations and simply stated, “My father loved all of his fans. He was the greatest, most decent man.” JC also re-opened a case against POW, accusing their executives of taking advantage of Stan when his medical condition had deteriorated, by either forging his signature on documents or getting him to sign under fraudulent pretences.
POW are being sued for stealing Stan’s intellectual property, for enabling low grade actors, and for cybersquatting.
She has also expressed her dissatisfaction against Marvel and Disney executives, as she feels that they are seeking total control of her father’s creation, and believes they must be checked and balanced as are still seeking to profit from her father’s legacy.
Can JC Lee carry Stan Lee’s legacy forward?
When he retired, Stan handed Marvel Comics to his protégé, comic book writer Roy Thomas. JC says she has written almost every day for four years and has 2000 pages almost ready for a book and movie.
— JC Lee (@RealJCLee) September 18, 2017
The last idea Stan and JC had worked on was “DirtMan”, which is still in the making. She hopes to represent her dad and make him very proud by continuing in the entertainment business, producing movies and comics.
She has always been highly complimentary towards her father saying he was “the greatest” and “straight up”, that she was privileged and honored to have been his daughter and that she’s learnt a lot from his hardworking, honest and ethical example. Stan’s drive was for peace in the world and hence he created the superheroes to fight evil. JC seems determined to carry on his vision, and hopefully continue to delight Marvel fans. First in line will be DirtMan, which going by the name and in line with world trends and current environmental catastrophes, will possibly be an eco-warrior.