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John William Ryan

Also Known As: "Jack", "William John"
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Death: August 13, 1991 (64)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States (Suicide by gunshot)
Immediate Family:

Son of James Joseph Ryan and Lillian Johnston
Husband of Private and Gari Hardy
Ex-husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor
Father of Private and Private
Brother of James C. Ryan

Occupation: Toy and weapons engineer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Jack Ryan

John W. "Jack" Ryan was an American designer noted for creating the popular image. Ryan worked at toy company Mattel for 20 years, becoming the company's vice president of research and development.There he was responsible for the Barbie doll, Hot Wheels, and Chatty Cathy.[1] He was being the sixth husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Ryan graduated from Yale University, worked for Raytheon as an engineer working on the AIM-7 Sparrow and MIM-23 Hawk missiles Mattel hired him for his "space-aged savvy" and knowledge of materials.

In 1956, Mattel co-owner Ruth Handler returned from a European vacation with a German-designed Bild Lilli doll. She and Ryan worked on producing a similar fashion doll for the American market (the two later disputed which of them was chiefly responsible for the doll's design).[5]

Ryan worked on the V-rroom! X-15 velocipede which was named after the North American X-15 rocket-powered aircraft, and patented the V-RROOM! toy engines that simulated motorcycle engine sounds. He designed the mechanics of the Chatty Cathy dolls.[citation needed]

Ryan's relationship with Mattel soured, and in 1980 he sued Mattel for royalties; the company settled out of court.[5]

Ryan was a very eccentric man. He grew up very alone in his childhood, and so as a result, constantly wanted people around him in his adult life. His eccentricity can be found in his mansion (known as The Castle) he bought shortly after he began working for Mattel. He installed many creations and inventions into The Castle. He would start many, that were left unfinished. After Mattel started lowering his royalties, Jack had to sell The Castle for under 2 million dollars.

Ryan did a lot for Mattel, he thought he was 3rd in charge next to the Handlers (Ruth and her husband Elliot) who were Mattel's founders and owners. Ruth Handler had put him in charge of re-thinking the design of a German doll called, Bild Lili to create the Barbie doll. Mattel eventually obtained the rights to the Lili dolls and Barbie went on to become the best selling doll of all time and recently celebrated her 50th anniversary.

Evidence of his "space-aged savvy" can be seen in the designs of many of the toys he created for the Mattel line like for instance, the V-RROOM! X-15 velocipede (commonly referred to as a tricycle) which was named after the North American X-15 rocket-powered aircraft that were made for the USAF, the NASA, and the USN. His name also appears on the patent documents of the V-RROOM! bicycles of the 1960's as well as the V-RROOM! toy engines that simulated real motorcycle engine sounds.

Ryan was a Yale graduate who worked as an engineer at military equipment manufacturer Raytheon before "money lured him away to head Mattel's department of research and development".[3]

Jack Ryan was a “Yale-educated electrical engineer at Mattel who was a whiz at designing toys.“ and refers to Ryan being at Mattel in July 1957. [4]

At Mattel, Ryan also designed the mechanics of the Chatty Cathy dolls. Ryan worked at Mattel for 20 years. [5]

Ryan was also known for providing room and board to UCLA students who would in turn work at the many charity events he held at his The Castle.

Ryan sued Mattel and one claiming for unpaid royalties.

One story concerning Jack Ryan and his marriage to Zsa Zsa Gabor is that as their marriage was falling apart, he apparently disassembled her Rolls-Royce in attempt to make her a custom limousine and, according to court records, refused to put it back together again.

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Jack Ryan's Timeline

December 12, 1926
New York, New York, United States
August 13, 1991
Age 64
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States