H. Ty Warner & Ty Inc.
Ty Warner appears frequently on Forbes Magazine's list of the top 400 wealthiest people in the USA. Popularly known as
the original creator of Beanie Babies, he is also a generous philanthropist known for donating millions of
dollars to the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, the Ty Warner Sea Center in Santa Barbara, the American and International Red
Cross, The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation, the Ronald McDonald House, the Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and others.
Who is Ty Warner? The best answer is "a man of mystery." He lives behind a veil of guarded privacy and rarely grants
interviews. The information for this short biography was compiled from several references cited at the bottom of this page.
H Ty Warner was born on September 3, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois. His father was Harold Warner, a
toy salesman who worked for Dakin. His mother was Georgia Warner, a pianist. Ty was named by his parents in honor of
baseball star Ty Cobb, of the Detroit Tigers. He also has a younger sister, Joyce (Joy). Ty's mother preferred to call him Tyrone.
In 1948 the Warner family moved to La Grange, a village west of Chicago. The new family home was a villa
designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, on South 8th Avenue. The Warner family resided at the villa until 1996.
From Kindergarten to the age of 13, Ty attended Cossitt School. At 14, he started at Lyons
Township High School (south campus) in Chicago. After three terms at Lyons, Warner went to St. John's Military Academy
in Delafield, Wisconsin. St. John's Military Academy confirms that approximately a year later Warner left their school to study drama at
Kalamazoo College in Michigan.
Following a year at Kalamazoo College, Warner moved to Hollywood, California in hopes of becoming an actor. The acting career didn't
materialize and Ty found
himself working miscellaneous jobs as a gas station attendant, grocery clerk and door-to-door camera salesman. In 1962, his father induced
him to become a sales representative for Dakin, a toy company based in San Francisco.
Warner remained with Dakin for 18 years. While representing Dakin, Warner achieved a degree of notoriety for his
eccentricity. He bought a white Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow convertible and frequently arrived for appointments wearing a fur coat, a
top hat and carrying a cane.
Ty said, "It was all to get in to see the buyer. I figured if I was eccentric-looking in Indiana, people would think, 'What is
he selling? Let's look in his case.'"
Paul Roche, Ty's former supervisor at Dakin said, "he was probably the best salesman I ever met."
Warner left Dakin in 1980 and traveled to Italy where he stayed with friends. While in Italy, Ty became intrigued by the
different varieties of stuffed cat toys sold in Italy that were not available in the USA.
Inspired by the plush animals he had seen in Italy, Ty returned to the USA in 1983, the year his father died. Using
money he inherited from his father, accumulated savings from his Dakin earnings and money from his mortgaged condo, he founded Ty
From his new home in Hinsdale, Illinois, Ty designed his first line of Himalayan cats named Smokey, Ginger, Peaches and Angel.
They sold for about $20 each. Ty shipped the plush cats from his condo until the business got too large.
Ty later said, "At first everyone called them road-kill and told me I was cheap, that I hadn't stuffed them enough. They didn't
get it. The whole idea was that they looked real because they were soft and moved."
Ty incorporated in 1986.
In 1991, Ty launched a product line called "Annual Collectible Bears." These sold well and established Ty as a successful plush
manufacturer. That year Ty also began his international expansion into England, Canada and Europe.
By 1992, Ty's retailer catalog featured several dozen animals but Ty was
focusing on a new product line. He envisioned a small inexpensive
plush that would appeal to children who could buy them with their pocket money and carry them around in their pockets or book-bags.
This vision lead to the introduction of the original 9 Beanie Babies in 1993. The Beanie Babies began appearing in
stores in early 1994. Initial sales were slow, but when Ty announced the first Beanie Baby retirements, a collecting frenzy
ensued that lasted almost a decade. Beanie Babies are the most publicized and widespread toy fad in American history.
In 1997, Ty partnered with McDonalds to participate in a Happy Meal promotion. The promotion was a tremendous success.
Enthusiastic collectors mobbed McDonalds restaurants to acquire the new Ty
Teenie Beanie Babies. McDonalds had ordered 100 million of them and they sold out quickly.
McDonalds had subsequent USA promotions featuring Teenie Beanie Babies in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2009 and 2014. McDonalds also ran
Teenie Beanie Baby promotions during various years in Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.
During the 1998 McDonalds promotion, 250 million Teenie Beanie Babies were sold. This was also the year Ty Inc. sales exceeded
one billion dollars, making Ty the most successful toy manufacturer in the world.
In 1999, Ty bought New York's Four Seasons Hotel for 275 million dollars, followed by the 2000 purchases of the Four Seasons
Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara, California, and the nearby San Ysidro Ranch. Since then he has also purchased the neighboring
Sandpiper Golf Course.
During the same time period Ty was diversifying into high-value real estate, the Beanie Baby craze started to wane. Although current
sales of Beanie Babies and the other Ty product lines continues at a high volume, the frenzied collecting mania has evaporated.
Ty didn't stop with the introduction of Beanie Babies. Since the successful
launch of the Beanie Baby product line in 1993, Ty has introduced numerous additional product lines
like Buddies, Beanie Kids, Bow Wow Beanies, Girlz, and Beanie Boos (to name a few). He surprised us in 2010 with Li'l Ones,
Beanie Bandz and Beanie Eraserz. Beanie Ballz and the Wild Wild Best collection made their appearances in 2011.
Ty Monstaz came on the scene in 2012 followed in subsequent years Ty Wildz and Frizzys.
Mr. Warner continues to live in relative privacy, rarely granting media interviews and hardly ever appearing in public beyond the
occasional toy trade show or charity function. People who have met him in person invariably talk about his warmth and
friendliness, especially towards children.
Mr. Warner at the 2012 Spring Toy fair in Japan.
Photo compliments of
Beyond the basic facts of his birth, schooling and early life's pursuits, the public knew very little about H Ty Warner
until March 2015, when a book entitled The Great Beanie Baby Bubble was published by
Portfolio/Penguin. The book's author, Zac Bissonnette had spent years researching Ty Warner's history. During his years of research,
Zac had scored interviews with Ty's sister, Ty's coworkers and supervisor from Dakin, numerous people who had worked for (or with) Ty to build
his Beanie Baby empire, Beanie Baby collectors, and others who had ridden Ty's coattails to success.
Beanie Babies have been popular across several generations and in many cases have benefited charitable causes, paid for college
educations and put smiles on the faces of children worldwide. We may not know much about Ty himself, but maybe we can
glean more than we first thought by seeing him reflected by his products, especially the Beanie Babies.
Thank you Mr. Warner, for all the smiles Beanie Babies have brought to millions of children's faces over the years. If those
smiles could be magically transformed into energy, the energy crisis would be over.
Mr. Warner at the 75th Annual Toy Fair
in Tokyo, Japan (February 2013).
Photo compliments of
Sources of information:
The Great Beanie Baby Bubble by Zac Bissonnette - Portfolio/Penguin
BEANIE BABY HISTORY By Leon Carlson of Mister
Beanie Mania II
Donald Danald, a
classmate of Mr. Warner
Times Newspapers Ltd. - United Kingdom
U.S. News & World Report
Mr. Warner's photograph (top of page) compliments of businesswire.com
Last update - March 15, 2015