How James Patterson, the richest writer in the world, helped create the iconic Toys R Us jingle

Millennials try to sing the jingle as they grapple with the end of Toys R Us

Weighed down by nearly $5 billion in debt, Toys R Us plans to close or sell all of its roughly 800 stores across the U.S. But while the majority of the locations will close, the brand will endure: "I'm a Toys R Us Kid" remains one of the most iconic and lasting jingles in retail history.

Kids in the 1980s and '90s grew up singing the lyrics, "I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys R Us kid." The jingle dates back to 1982, when bestselling novelist James Patterson co-created it with Linda Kaplan Thaler.

The two were coworkers at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. Thaler was a junior copywriter and Patterson, who started as a junior copywriter, had worked his way up to creative director. He was 34 years old when he helped create the jingle, he tells the Wall Street Journal. He came up with the line, "I'm a Toys R Us kid."

Thaler initially thought the song was going to be a "one time thing," she tells Inside Edition. "We never thought it was going to go on for so long."

Author James Patterson
Robin Marchant | Getty Images

But it didn't take Thaler long to realize that she and Patterson had come up with something special. Shortly after the campaign launched, she heard a 4-year-old boy running down the street singing the jingle: "His mother said to him, 'If you don't stop singing that song, we are never going to make it to school.' I thought, 'That's cool.'"

Thaler went on to create a jingle for Kodak and the former Northwest Airlines. She now runs her own ad agency, The Kaplan Thaler Group.

Patterson, who sold his first book while working at J. Walter Thompson, has been the world's best-selling author since 2001 and is currently the world's richest author, with a net worth of $700 million, according to Forbes.

The key to success, he says, is persistence. "You're lucky to find something you like to do, and it's a miracle if somebody will pay you to do it. That's kind of been my gig since I was in my 20s," the now 70-year-old author tells Forbes. "My first book got turned down by 31 publishers ... but you keep churning along."

—Video by Mary Stevens

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