Stefan Karl Stefansson may be gone, but he is far from forgotten.
The beloved actor, who passed away earlier this year after a long battle with cancer, was recently named Man of the Year in a poll of Icelandic publication DV‘s readers. The LazyTown actor won in a landslide, garnering 72 percent of the votes to beat out a field that included activists and political leaders.
Stefan Karl gained fame as the bumbling and but ultimately big-hearted villain Robbie Rotten on the Icelandic children’s show. In the last two years, his character gained new life as generations who grew up watching the show turned the character into a popular internet meme. Stefansson reveled in playing along, often interacting with his fans online and even posting a live performance of the character’s famous song “We Are Number One.” In his final months, Stefan Karl often responded personally to fans who sent him messages offering their support in his battle with cancer.
As the DV report noted, Stefan Karl Stefansson tried to use his fame to help others, launching anti-bullying efforts in his native Iceland.
“When Stephen Karl was a child, he suffered a great deal of bullying, and after becoming an adult he wanted to try to prevent other children from being the same,” the newspaper wrote. “He therefore became a great fighter in bullying and worked diligently to increase education and prevention. He founded the bullying organization Regnbogabörn and held hundreds of lectures on bullying and the social affairs of children and adolescents in the country’s schools.”
Stefan Karl was also open with fans about his battle with a rare form of bile duct cancer, often posting updates and sharing his thoughts on making the most out of his remaining days. His openness about the health struggles endeared him to fans even more, and many sought ways to honor his memory.
Some called on Iceland to erect a statue in his honor, and one started a Change.org petition to have the actor named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2018. Others placed his death alongside other pop culture icons, like comic book legend Stan Lee and SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg.
Stefan Karl is Iceland's Man of the Year 1️⃣ https://t.co/3eyGZjrdlr
— Connor Rentz (@TheConnorRentz) December 21, 2018
The news that Stefan Karl Stefansson was named Man of the Year in Iceland for 2018 was warmly welcomed by fans. A post about the honor reached the top of the link-sharing site Reddit, where the actor had been particularly embraced and where his character had been declared “Meme of the Year” for 2016.