Toy company CEO's suicide comes amid hopes of financial turnaround

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The chief executive of Applause LLC was found dead hours after speaking optimistically to a newspaper about saving his toy company from financial ruin.Bob Solomon, 50, shot himself at his Woodland Hills home on Friday, authorities said. 

Solomon saved Applause from near bankruptcy in 2001, signing new licensing deals and saving jobs. 

The company's fortunes worsened, however, especially after Solomon's decision to concentrate on specialty toy retailers at a time when those companies were losing business to giants such as Wal-Mart. 

Solomon also ended a 22-year relationship producing stuffed toys for The Walt Disney Co. to concentrate on "Dream Pets,'' miniature stuffed dolls that first became popular in the 1960s. 

The line did not catch on and Applause was facing eviction from its Woodland Hills headquarters when Solomon spoke to the Daily News of Los Angeles several times last week. 

"We're in a wicked industry, and I'm trying to keep a company alive,'' he told the paper. 

"Companies have layoffs, companies have downsizing, some companies don't make it. I'm still hanging on. I'm a fighter.'' 

Solomon was with Applause from its earliest days as a gift company in 1983.  

He diversified the company into plush toys and stuffed animals, winning licenses to produced stuffed versions of Mickey Mouse, Snoopy and other popular characters. - APLatest business news from AP-Wire

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