Toy Industry Loses a Titan

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The fun briefly came to a halt in early May as the toy industry mourned the loss of Jack Friedman, founder of Jakks Pacific. Friedman, 70, had recently retired from his regular duties as company chairman and chief executive officer to spend more time with his family. With more than 50 years of toy industry experience, Friedman launched some of the most successful toys in history, including the first movie toys for E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, and was also a pioneer in the video game industry. Under his leadership, Jakks Pacific has grown into one of the top five publicly traded diversified toy companies in the country. It was included in Forbes magazine's 2002 list of the best 200 small companies in America (its third such listing), and was also named to Fortune magazine's annual list of the 100 fastest-growing companies in America for the fourth year in a row. Jakks Pacific, which since its inception in 1995, has been designing, developing, producing and marketing toys, leisure products and writing instruments for children and adults around the world, has steadily grown into the industry leader it is today. For more than a decade it has been strategically acquiring other toy labels, including Remco, Pentech, Toymax and Play Along Toys and signing licensing agreements to diversify its portfolio with the likes of Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros., World Wrestling Entertainment, Ultimate Fighting Championship, Grace and Cabbage Patch Kids. Friedman was also known as a generous philanthropist and supporter of the company's Jakks Cares program, which has benefited organizations such as The Toy Industry Foundation, Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, The Special Olympics, Feed the Children, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Marine Toys for Tots and more. Under the program, Jakks has donated more than $40 million worth of toys and school supplies to children around

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