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Jack Ryan
Born John W. Jack Ryan
(1926-11-12)November 12, 1926
Died August 13, 1991(1991-08-13) (aged 64)
Occupation designer
Spouse(s) Zsa Zsa Gabor
(m.1975-1976; divorced)

John W. "Jack" Ryan (November 12, 1926 – August 13, 1991) was an American designer noted for creating the popular image of the Barbie doll, Hot Wheels, Chatty Cathy and being the sixth husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor. He had a brother, Jim Ryan, who also was an inventor.


Ryan graduated from Yale University, worked for Raytheon as an engineer, and then moved to Mattel where he was head of research and development. [1]

Jack Ryan worked at Raytheon as an engineer designing Sparrow and Hawk missiles. Mattel hired him for his "space-aged savvy" and knowledge of materials.[2]

Ryan was an eccentric man. For example, he purchased a mansion (known as The Castle) shortly after he began working for Mattel. He installed many creations and inventions into The Castle. He would also start many that were left unfinished. After Mattel started lowering his royalties, Jack had to sell The Castle for under two million dollars.

Ryan did a lot for Mattel, and he considered himself the third 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. 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 1960s as well as the V-RROOM! toy engines that simulated real motorcycle engine sounds.[3]

At Mattel, Ryan also designed the mechanics of the Chatty Cathy dolls. Ryan worked at Mattel for twenty years.[4]

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 with the help of Beverly Hills attorney Murray Lertzman and Jamie Brickell, a partner at Pryor Cashman, and was awarded a judgment of 7.5 million dollars. After the award he bought actor Peter Lorry's former house.

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.[citation needed]


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