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PASSINGS: Hans Riegel and Susan Smith

Hans Riegel, an executive for German candy maker Haribo who made gummi bears a global hit, dies at 90; Susan Smith, Hollywood talent agent, dies at 71

October 16, 2013|Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports
  • This Oct. 22, 2009, photo shows Hans Riegel, the longtime marketing executive of German candy maker Haribo who took the gummi bear to international fame, in Bonn, Germany. Haribo said in a statement that Riegel, the son of the company's founder, died of heart failure in Bonn on Tuesday. He was 90.
This Oct. 22, 2009, photo shows Hans Riegel, the longtime marketing executive… (Rolf Vennenbernd / Associated…)

Hans Riegel, 90, a marketing executive who made German candy maker Haribo and its signature gummi bears a chewy hit across the globe, died Tuesday of heart failure in Bonn, the company announced. He had been recovering from an operation to remove a benign brain tumor.

Riegel was the son of the company founder, also named Hans Riegel, who in 1920 set up Haribo — an acronym for "Hans Riegel Bonn." In 1922, his father invented the "dancing bear," a small bear made out of fruit gum that laid the foundations for Haribo's later success with the "gold bear."

The company founder died in 1945. Upon being released as allied prisoners after World War II, Riegel and his younger brother, Paul, set about rebuilding the family firm. Haribo had only about 30 employees immediately after the war but, as West Germany's economy took off, the number was up to 1,000 five years later.

Paul Riegel, who died in 2009, focused on production while Hans Riegel took charge of marketing and sales.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Haribo acquired businesses in the Netherlands, France and Britain; and in 1982, it added a sales office in the United States, setting up Haribo of America Inc. in Baltimore.

Ubiquitous in Germany, gummi bears are also available in the most far-flung and unlikely places around the world, beloved for their bright colors, sugary taste and teddy-bear shape.

Hans Riegel was born on March 10, 1923. He served as a soldier in World War II and returned to Germany in 1946 after being held as a prisoner of war, according to Spiegel magazine. He studied economics at the University of Bonn and completed a doctorate in 1951 on the global sugar industry.

He remained a co-owner of the company and actively involved in the business until the end.



Susan Smith, a Hollywood talent agent who ran her own firm for decades, counting among her clients Brian Dennehy, Lynn Redgrave, David Paymer and Oscar winner Kathy Bates, died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after battling cancer, according to publicist Nancy Seltzer. Smith was 71.

-- Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports

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