Jack Friedman was a pioneer in the toy, licensing and video game industries who made his mark over his 50-year career with some of the most iconic playthings of our time. Friedman co-founded JAKKS Pacific in January 1995 and served as its chairman and chief executive officer through March 31, 2010. Thanks in large part to his keen leadership, JAKKS has grown into a top 5 U.S. publicly-traded, diversified toy company.
Prior to founding JAKKS, Friedman led LJN Toys, guiding the company into licensed products based on TV shows – a new frontier for toy companies in the 1970s. At LJN, he launched toys for the movie E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, as well as dolls based on Michael Jackson and Brooke Shields. After the sale of LJN to MCA in 1985, Jack went on to form video game company THQ, Inc. in 1989 and and served as its CEO until 1995.
Under Friedman’s leadership, JAKKS Pacific grew its portfolio to more than 80% licensed products, including Cabbage Patch Kids, Hello Kitty, Pokémon, Care Bears, Barney, Sesame Street, Smurfs, Atari, Star Wars, Marvel characters, Disney Princess, Disney Fairies, Toy Story, Cars, Club Penguin and Pirates of the Caribbean, SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues, SLIME! and more. Friedman also worked to diversify JAKKS’ portfolio, which now includes Action Figures, Electronics, Dolls, Dress-Up, Role Play, Halloween Costumes, Kids Furniture, Vehicles, Plush, Seasonal Products, Infant/Pre-School Toys, Ride-On Vehicles, Wagons, Inflatable Environments and many more.
Friedman was also a generous philanthropist and supporter of the JAKKS Cares program, which has benefited organizations such as The Toy Industry Foundation, Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, Special Olympics, Feed the Children, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Marine Toys for Tots and more. JAKKS Cares has donated more than $50 million worth of toys and school supplies to children around the world, with a goal of helping under-privileged children Smile, Play and Succeed. Friedman died on May 3, 2010 at the age of 70.