toy inventor and entrepeneur
Died: January 14, 2008 (Arcadia, California)
Best Known as: creator of the Hoola Hoop, the Superball, and the Frisbee
Richard Knerr and a friend, Arthur Melin, created quirky toys that turned into American crazes such as the Hoola Hoop, the Superball, and the Frisbee. The Hoola Hoop sold 40 million in its first year in 1958, and 100 million by 1960, but the fad quickly faded and their company, Wham-O, was stuck with millions of unwanted plastic tubes. The Frisbee, however, which they released in 1957, was a consistent seller and the basis for a new competitive sport. Not all their brainstorms were a success, but many were a hit including Silly String, Slip ‘N Slide, and their first creation, the Slingshot. Knerr and Melin sold Wham-O in 1982 for $12 million to the Kransco Group Companies.
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