Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner dies of cancer at 58

PAWTUCKET – Hasbro Chairman and CEO Brian D. Goldner, who has taken the toy and game company to new heights in global sales and the film and television worlds, among many other accomplishments, is died Tuesday morning after a long battle with cancer.

Goldner, 58, leaves his wife Barbara and daughter Brooke. The Goldners’ son, Brandon, died six years ago this month from an accidental opioid overdose.

Goldner’s death was announced to employees in an email with “deep and deep sorrow” by Hasbro directors Rich Stoddart, Deb Thomas and Dolph Johnson.

“During his more than two decades with Hasbro and thirteen years as CEO,” they wrote, “Brian was the heart, soul and visionary of the company, leading us all with passion to bring storytelling, joy and laughter to children and families around the world. Brian’s tireless enthusiasm and drive has transformed our business, and his tremendous leadership is responsible for making Hasbro the proud leader in entertainment and gaming that we are today.

“Our love and thoughts are with Brian’s wife, Barbara, daughter Brooke and the entire Goldner family. We will honor Brian’s legacy every day at Hasbro by continuing to work with the same passion, kindness and enthusiasm that has defined Brian as a leader.

Brian Goldner joins Hasbro employees in assembling toy bags for Rhode Island students in December 2016.

“We all have so many fond memories of Brian. Sharing them with each other will help to ensure the sustainability of his spirit and his legacy. We look forward to coming together as the Hasbro family to celebrate Brian, his legacy and share our collective stories and memories, however he would like. In the meantime, we invite everyone to share your memories, thoughts and condolences ”on a dedicated online site.

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In 2008, Goldner took over from Al Verrecchia, the first Hasbro chief who was not a member of the founding Hassenfeld family. Verrecchia took over from Alan Hassenfeld, who left the local office to devote himself to philanthropy.

Goldner joined Hasbro as president of the US Toys division in 2000, arriving in Rhode Island from Bandai North America, the US division of the Japanese toy giant that sold a line of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers video games.

“Coming to Hasbro was a natural fit on many levels,” Goldner said years later. “Clearly, a deep desire and need for a new strategic direction for the company – a reaffirmation of the power of our brand. a new, more contemporary and faster philosophy to keep up with changing consumer behavior and gaming behavior globally – but also the idea that we could create a mission as part of our business strategy and goal to make the world a better place for children and their families.

His legacy will include a strong track record in corporate social responsibility and Hasbro’s unprecedented success in Hollywood, most notably with the Transformers film franchise. It also fortified and expanded Hasbro brands including Nerf, My Little Pony, Monopoly, Scrabble, Play-Doh, Baby Alive, Star Wars, Tonka, and Magic: The Gathering. He created Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast subsidiary, specializing in role-playing, collectible cards, and digital games.

Goldner’s last major acquisition was Entertainment One, for $ 3.8 billion in 2019. It also acquired the rights to hit Disney Frozen lines in a deal that dealt its big rival a blow. Mattel, which previously held the rights.

Goldner also served on the board of directors of ViacomCBS.

Opioid awareness campaign

Following the death of their son, Brandon, Brian and Barbara Goldner devoted their time and energy to causes aimed at preventing opioid overdose deaths. It won praise from many leaders, including then-governor Gina Raimondo, who said in 2016:

Brian Goldner and his wife, Barbara, discuss the death of their son Brandon in an interview in 2016.

“By having the courage to share their son’s story,” the Goldners “show that this crisis can and does affect every city and neighborhood in Rhode Island. We must demand rapid change to address this crisis and promote treatment, prevention and recovery. I look forward to working with Brian and Barbara and so many others to deal with this crisis. “

In a press release Tuesday, Hasbro credited Goldner with “playing a pivotal role in transforming the company into a global leader in gaming and entertainment.” He added, “With his tireless work ethic and unwavering focus, he has expanded the company beyond toys and games to TV, movies, digital games and beyond, to ensure that iconic Hasbro brands reach all consumers. “

Tributes go up

Tributes to Goldner on the dedicated online site poured in as news of his passing spread.

“The last time I met Brian at the Wizards office, I had the pleasure of playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons with him,” one woman wrote. He got into role play with enthusiasm and good humor, just as he approached leadership. Brian’s positive presence and sound advice will be missed.

One man wrote: “My sincere and deepest condolences to all of his family. Brian was not only an amazing and passionate leader, but a GREAT person who cared for all of us at Hasbro. He was a real inspiration who allowed me to be the best I can be. We will miss you dearly, but we will do everything we can to ensure that your vision and passion continues at Hasbro RIP Brian.

Another employee wrote: “Through COVID and all the challenges we have faced, Brian put us first and I have always felt proud to have him as my boss. He made it a priority to keep us all in jobs at a time when so many people feared losing theirs. I will always remember his kindness and be grateful to him for the way he has run this wonderful company and for the fact that I can be part of such a wonderful team. We will miss him. Pray for love and comfort for his family during this time.

The company announced in 2020 that Goldner was undergoing ongoing treatment after a cancer diagnosis in 2014.

The final arrangements had not been announced Tuesday evening.

With reports from editor Paul Edward Parker.

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