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Stanley Weston, ACTV Founder & GI Joe Inventor, Dies At 84

Stanley Weston, co-founder of interactive TV programming company ACTV — and the man who conceived the idea of the G.I. Joe action figure — died on May 1 at 84 years old.

Weston was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on April 1, 1933.  He attended New York University before entering the army shortly after the end of the Korean War. Upon his discharge, he returned to New York to work for the advertising agency McCann Erickson and soon discovered the nascent licensing and merchandising industry. Weston left McCann to start Weston Merchandising, where he initially represented such properties as Dr. Kildaire, Soupy Sales, Twiggy and How The West Was Won.

Upon the release of Barbie dolls in 1960, Weston decided that there should be an action figure for boys and came up with the idea for a military action figure. He sold the concept that became G.I. Joe to the company that became Hasbro in 1963.

Weston’s company, renamed, Leisure Concepts, went on to represent Farrah Fawcett during her “Charlie’s Angels” days; Bruce Jenner after his Olympic wins; the World Wrestling Federation; and Nintendo, along with numerous TV shows such as “Welcome Back Kotter” and “Alf.” 

Considered by some to be a founding father of the licensing business, he was inducted into the Licensing Industry Hall of fame in 1989 as part of the inaugural induction class. 

Weston is survived by his brother, three children and five grandchildren.