G.I. Joe, It Turns Out, Had More Than One Father

Mr. Weston got a 65 percent stake in the venture and Mr. Reiner 35 percent, according to an unsigned document provided by the Reiner family.

“My father got $35,000, and he bought a house,” Ms. Reiner said in an interview.

Steve Weston said his father’s majority share in the venture suggested his greater role. “The owner and creator gets the lion’s share,” he said. “Quite simply, the idea was my father’s.”

Mr. Reiner’s family says it was his.

The origin story is murky because of a lack of authoritative documents and because of the deaths of Mr. Weston, on May 1, and Mr. Reiner, in 2001.

According to his family’s account, Mr. Reiner took the idea for a military doll to his employer, the Ideal Toy Company, which rejected it. “My father then presented this idea to Stan to go to Hasbro with,” Ms. Reiner said. “My father was the silent partner.”

Soon after they met, Mr. Reiner sent a letter to himself that described what he had laid out to Mr. Weston. “A 10-inch boy doll to be dressed in combat outfit,” he wrote on April 12, 1963, in a letter that was provided by his family. “This doll to have movable arms and hands in order to hold a rifle and/or other combat weapons.”

Not long after, Mr. Weston seemed to give Mr. Reiner credit for far more than the movable arms and legs. In a letter written on April 24 to Mr. Reiner’s lawyer, Mr. Weston wrote, “Approximately two weeks ago, Larry and I discussed an idea that he had for a line of boy military dolls, designed to scale, including accessory military vehicles.”

Steve Weston said his father wrote the letter only as a favor to Mr. Reiner, to “cover” him with Ideal. But Ms. Reiner said her father had Ideal’s permission to present the idea to Hasbro.

Decades later, in a 2003 email to his granddaughter Jenna Winebaum, Mr. Weston said that he, not Mr. Reiner,…

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