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Stanley Weston (1933 - 2017)

AP Images / Jay Weston

Licensing pioneer was called the Father of the G.I. Joe action figure

Stanley Weston, the licensing pioneer who helped conceive the military action figure that later was sold as the Hasbro "G.I. Joe" doll, died Monday, May 1, 2017, in Los Angeles, according to multiple news sources. He was 84.

Weston was born April 1, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York, and served in the U.S. Army after the end of the Korean War. After serving, he returned to New York to work for an advertising agency while pursuing an MBA through night classes.

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In 1963, he proposed the idea of a military-themed articulated action figure, marketed to young boys much the same way as the Barbie doll, which debuted in 1960, had been marketed to young girls. Weston credited toy inventor Larry Reiner with the articulated-figure concept; he pitched and sold the idea to the toy maker Hasbro, where creative director Donald Levine and toy designer Sam Speers developed it further. Hasbro eventually named the doll G.I. Joe and had an instant hit on their hands.

Although Hasbro paid Weston $100,000 for his creation, he never received a cut of the millions of dollars that the company made selling G.I. Joe dolls and related accessories including uniforms, military gear, mess kits, and more.

Weston had hoped to recapture the copyrights to his creation by filing a lawsuit against Hasbro. The copyrights are set to expire in 2020.

Stan Weston went on to start his own company, Leisure Concepts, and represented stars including Farrah Fawcett.

In a 2012 Huffington Post blog entry titled "My Brother Invented 'G.I. Joe.' Really!" Weston's brother Jay related an experience Stanley Weston had at a gathering:

"Stan once told me a story, about how he was introduced at a convention as 'The Father of G.I. Joe,' and a young boy came up to him and said, 'Thank you. Joe made me a better student and a better boy.' That’s probably worth more in the realm of heaven than any royalty.

"An interesting addendum: many years after this, Stan’s son, Brad Weston, was President of Production of Paramount Pictures, and put the movie G.I. Joe into development and production. It has been a huge success and the second film will be out shortly. I suppose that’s keeping it in the family."

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