Donald Levine

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Donald M. Levine
Born(1928-04-01)April 1, 1928
DiedMay 22, 2014(2014-05-22) (aged 86)
OccupationExecutive of Hasbro
Known forCreator of GI Joe and its related toys

Don Levine (April 1, 1928 – May 22, 2014) was a business executive at toy manufacturers Hasbro credited as the "father" of G.I. Joe action figures.[1]

Donald Levine was born in Elmhurst, New York to the late Ralph and Mildred Levine. He graduated Syracuse University. He was an avid tennis player competing in the Jr. Davis Cup and representing the US Army in tournaments in Asia during his military career.[2]

As Hasbro's head of research and development, Levine guided G.I. Joe through its design and development after receiving the conceptual idea from a man named Stanley Weston (Weston received $100,000 for his contribution) and the name from a 1945 film called The Life of G.I. Joe, also called The Story of G.I. Joe. Levine served with the United States Army in the Korean War and Hasbro's employees also included many military veterans, so it was decided the toy should be outfitted in the uniforms of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force and their respective accessories.[1] He wanted the G.I. Joe toys to be an attempt at honoring all the service members in the United States, like him.

In 2005-2006, Levine designed and manufactured an action figure of Osama bin Laden for a Central Intelligence Agency psychological warfare program called Devil Eyes. Levine developed a twelve-inch lifelike figure whose face was painted with a material that, when heated, would peel off to reveal a demon-like visage with green eyes and black markings. When asked in 2014 about Levine's involvement in the program, his family said in a statement, "Don Levine was a dedicated Patriot, and proud Korean War veteran. When called on, he was honored to assist our country."[3]

In the years before his death, he sold some rare prototypes of G.I. Joe Figures , including one that sold for $200,000 in 2003 at auction.[4]

In 2014 Levine died from cancer at a Providence, Rhode Island hospice. He is survived by Nan, his wife of nearly 60 years. They have three children and four grandchildren.[1] His funeral was held at Temple Beth-El in Providence on May 25, 2014.

Notable Quotes:

"Nobody wins a war, but they fight in the wars. And my attitude was, someday I'm gonna do it." On his life and attitude before joining the military in an interview with video producer Chad Hembree.

"Someday I'm going to do something to honor this military, these military people, who fight in the wars." From archival footage cited by NPR's Elizabeth Blair for All Things Considered.


  1. ^ a b c Don Levine, Hasbro exec who helped create GI Joe, dies Archived 2014-09-20 at the Wayback Machine May 24, 2014 AP
  2. ^ "Donald Levine Obituary".
  3. ^ Goldman, Adam (June 19, 2014). "CIA hatched plan to make demon toy to counter Osama bin Laden's influence". The Washington Post.
  4. ^ "The Man Who Brought G.I. Joe To Children Dies At 86". Retrieved 2021-04-24.

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