PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Hasbro Chairman and CEO Brian Goldner has died after a battle with cancer, the company announced Tuesday. He was 58.
Goldner first disclosed his cancer diagnosis last year, but his condition had worsened recently. The company announced just last weekend that he would be taking a medical leave.
“Since joining the company more than two decades ago, Brian has been the heart and soul of Hasbro,” Rich Stoddart, Hasbro’s interim CEO, said in a statement. “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.”
“His visionary leadership, kindness, and generosity made him beloved by the Hasbro community and everyone he touched,” he said. “On behalf of the Hasbro family, we extend our deepest, heartfelt condolences to his wife, daughter, and entire family.”
A New York native who started his career in advertising, Goldner joined Hasbro in 2000 and became CEO in 2008. The company’s annual revenue rose from $4 billion to almost $5.5 billion during his tenure.
Over that period, Hasbro branched out from its traditional physical toys like Play-Doh and board games to emphasizing multimedia efforts like movies, cartoons and video games. The company partnered with Hollywood studios on films based on its toy franchises, like the “Transformers” series.
“I love what I do every day, and every day is different,” Goldner told 12 News in 2018. “I’ve been at the company 19 years, and I’ve had about eight different jobs. I constantly am working on different parts of our business and honing the way we innovate and that we tell stories, or the way we garner consumer insights. No one day is the same as the next one, so that’s what fun.”
Goldner’s national profile had been rising in recent years. He was named to the board of directors at CBS Corp. — now ViacomCBS — in 2018 as part of a shakeup there following the ouster of CEO Les Moonves. He was also on the board of The Paley Center for Media, formerly the Museum of Television & Radio.
Locally, Goldner was the founding board chair of the Partnership for Rhode Island, a nonprofit made up of the CEOs of major local employers including Hasbro, CVS, Citizens Bank, Bank of America and FM Global. Then-Gov. Gina Raimondo praised Goldner during her time in office for being one of the state’s active business leaders.
The Goldner family was touched by tragedy in 2015 when his 23-year-old son, Brandon, died of a heroin overdose. Goldner and his wife, Barbara, later went public with Brandon’s story in an effort to call attention to the overdose crisis.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram