The former Hasbro executive who developed the action figure died from cancer at Home and Hospice Care of Rhode Island.
Donald Levine, a former Hasbro executive who is dubbed the father of G.I. Joe, has passed away. He was 86. Levine's wife Nan Levine told The Associated Press that her husband lost battle with cancer on May 22 at Home & Hospice Care of Rhode Island.
Hasbro released a statement following Levine's passing. "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, adding that his "influence on the toy industry was profound."
Levine said that he created G.I. Joe figurine, which was released in 1964, to honor veterans. Back then, the company employed many military veterans, so he and his team decided to dress the toys in Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force uniforms completed with guns, helmets and vehicles.
The figurine got popular among children in the 1960s. Comic books, cartoons and movies starring Channing Tatum were created based on the toy, which was inducted into Toy Hall of Fame in 2004.
In addition to his wife, Levine is survived by three children and four grandchildren.