Toy executive Donald Levine, who helped designed G.I. Joe, dies at 86

By Daniel S Levine,

Donald Levine, an executive at the Hasbro toy company credited with developing the G.I. Joe action figure, has died. He was 86-years-old.

Alan Hassenfeld, former Hasbro CEO, told the Providence Journal that Levine was “a wonderful, wonderful asset at Hasbro for many years.” Hassenfeld added that Levine was a “great teacher and mentor of mine.”

His wife, Nan, confirmed to the Associated Press that he died of cancer Thursday at the Home & Hospice Care of Rhode Island.

Levine was Hasbro’s head of research and development at the time G.I. Joe was introduced. His team developed the first figure, which was 11 1/2 inches tall and had an amazing 21 moving parts. The toy was created based on the experience of veterans working at Hasbro at the time, so the figure was outfitted in the Navy, Army and Marines outfits. They also designed vehicles for the figure.

He served in Korea himself and believed that the figures were a way to honor veterans. They sold for $4 a piece when introduced for Christmas 1964.

Of course, the G.I. Joe brand still lives on today, with Hasbro creating smaller figures and their own storylines. Paramount and Hasbro have even teamed up for two films, including last year’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation with Channing Tatum and Dwayne Johnson.

Levine’s funeral will be held Sunday in Providence.



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