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Mr. Goldner joined Hasbro in 2008.
Mr. Goldner joined Hasbro in 2008.Steven Senne/Associated Press

PROVIDENCE — Just two days after he took medical leave, toymaker Hasbro announced Tuesday that its chief executive, Brian Goldner, has died. He was 58.

The company disclosed recently that Mr. Goldner had been receiving medical treatments for cancer since 2014.

Mr. Goldner joined Hasbro in 2000 and served as CEO of the company since 2008, when he was named CEO of the year by MarketWatch. He became chairman of the board in 2015.

He helped evolve the company from a maker of such classic toys as G.I. Joe and Mr. Potato Head to a global entertainment leader. That included licensing its products for uses other than play, such as movies based off the toys.


“The first ‘Transformers’ film showed how we brought consumers a whole new way to experience the Transformers brand,” Mr. Goldner told the Globe in 2012. “Once the first film was made and we proved our brands could play on the big screen, we knew that we could translate that success in other brands.”

The strategy allowed Hasbro to generate revenue from ticket sales and licensing partnerships. As part of that process, the company also expanded into television and digital gaming.

In 2019, he led the charge in the $4 billion acquisition of Entertainment One Ltd, also known as eOne.

Also that year, he signed master toy licenses that would boost the company’s hold on a number of Star Wars, Disney, and Marvel characters. In February, the company saw sales of its licensed content from entertainment studios fall by 12 percent to $1.08 billion for 2020, but its sales of Star Wars grew by 70 percent. And throughout the pandemic, while families avoided attending screenings at movie theaters, Disney+ fueled much of Hasbro’s financial gains, in addition to classic toys and games such as Jenga, Dungeons & Dragons, and Scrabble.


The company’s share price more than doubled since Mr. Goldner became CEO.

Mr. Goldner also served on the board of directors at ViacomCBS and the chair of ViacomCBS’s Compensation Committee.

He also served as executive producer on the 2007 film “Transformers” and the 2009 films “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” The three “Transformers” films released since 2007, along with “G.I. Joe,” earned more than $3 billion at the box office and $1.6 billion in retail sales.

Mr. Goldner was also known for his philanthropy.

Working with his wife, Barbara, he sought improvements in how hospitals treated patients with substance abuse problems. In 2016, their advocacy led Rhode Island to release the country’s first statewide standards for treating overdose and opioid use in hospitals and emergency settings.

The impetus of this work was the death of their son, Brandon, from an accidental heroin overdose at the age of 23. Under the Alexander C. Perry and Brandon Goldner Law, named for the Goldners’ son and for the son of former senator Rhoda Perry, all Level 3 hospitals and emergency departments must provide comprehensive discharge planning systems, including patient education and connection to a peer recovery specialist.

In 2017, the couple was honored by The Butler Hospital Foundation for their advocacy for better care of Rhode Island’s most vulnerable, including those affected by the opioid epidemic.

“Brandon’s Beach” at Burnside Park, partially funded by Hasbro Children’s Fund, also honors their son.


Under Mr. Goldner’s leadership, Hasbro was ranked first on the 2017 Best Corporate Citizens list by CR Magazine. It was the third year the company ranked in the top five on the list, pushing ahead of global companies such as Apple and Microsoft. The company was also named “World’s Most Ethical Company” by the Ethisphere Institute in 2017 and placed No. 1 in Newsweek’s 2016 Green Rankings.

Outside of Hasbro’s, then-Governor Gina M. Raimondo named Mr. Goldner as chairman for Partnership for Rhode Island, which seeks to bring business leaders together to make investments, boost workforce, and bolster education.

“He beat the drum and kept us focused on having a big vision for what the state could achieve. He would tell everyone on the board to play a role, not just in their own company’s future, but in the state’s,” said Tom Giordano, executive director of Partnership for Rhode Island, told the Globe. “He was the busiest guy, but had a vision for us and put in the time to employ and help Rhode Islanders whenever he could.”

Representative David Cicilline said Mr. Goldner’s death was a “tremendous loss for” Rhode Island. He said, “Brian was a truly inspirational leader, not only in business but in all his civic pursuits.”

Chris Ryan, former president and publisher of IDW Publishing and writer in the comic book industry, described Mr. Goldner as a “nice, approachable guy for someone at his level, and a great CEO.”


“Among everything else, Brian was always an enthusiastic champion of the projects we produced in partnership with Hasbro,” Ryan wrote on Twitter.

The son of an electrical engineer and a school teacher, Mr. Goldner had said that while growing up in New York, the only toy he had was “a box of Legos.”

Before joining Hasbro, he had worked at ad agencies Leo Burnett and J. Walter Thompson and was chief operating officer of toy maker Bandai America Inc.

Rich Stoddart, who will take over as interim chief executive at Hasbro, said in a statement that since Mr. Goldner joined the company more than two decades ago, he was the “heart and soul of Hasbro.”

“As a charismatic and passionate leader in both the play and entertainment industries, Brian’s work brought joy and laughter to children and families around the world,” said Stoddart. “His visionary leadership, kindness, and generosity made him beloved by the Hasbro community and everyone he touched.”

Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz.