Donald Levine: Creator of The Word's First Action Figure, G.I. Joe, Dies

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Donald Levine, the man credited with helping to create the G.I. Joe doll, one of the most iconic American toys alongside Barbie, has passed away following a battle with cancer. He died at the Home & Hospice Care of Rhode Island.

Channing TatumChanning Tatum played G.I. Joe in 2013's 'Retaliation'

Levine’s influence on the action figure is remembered for creating the legacy it currently holds today. From a 11 1/2-inch articulated figure with 21 moving parts, which was clad in military-style gear due to the amount of veterans working at Hasbro at the time, Levine and his team would create a global brand of action figures. 

Former Hasbro chief executive officer Alan Hassenfeld remembered Levine fondly as “a wonderful, wonderful asset at Hasbro for many years” who “was a great teacher and mentor of mine”. Hassenfeld said that the original idea for the doll came from Stan Weston, but that Levine made it what it was, according to The Providence Journal. “My dad loved the idea, and Don and his team took the concept and made it into something even bigger. Don was a special, special human being. "It’s a huge loss for the toy industry.”

More: read our review of 2013's G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Levine's "influence on the toy industry was profound" Hasbro said in a statement. “His work forever changed the way kids play with toys, and in particular helped birth the G.I. Joe brand which has been a part of the American fabric for 50 years,” the company said.

Hasbro were considered pioneers in advertising toys on TV, especially for their work with with Mr. Potato Head in 1952. They went step further when G.I. Joe hit the airwaves outside of the holiday shopping season 12 years later. And in 1982  they ran an ad for Marvel Comics' 'G.I. Joe' issue #1, the first time a comic book was advertised on television.


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